Burn out or reach out

As a Village Manager you are likely to face daily challenges within your own community – death, illness, divorce, declining health, operational challenges, legislative changes, organisational pressures and resident demands, to name a few. 

Then add to this drought, flood, bushfires and now COVID-19 concerns. 

It is no wonder that this year I already have personally been approached by nearly half a dozen Village Managers feeling the challenges are just too much. 

This distressed me and I spoke to Samantha Young, Managing Director of Human Psychology.

She quickly highlighted the positives: these Village Managers are acknowledging how they are feeling and reaching out for support. 

Samantha was quick to provide me with a Top 10 list of actions that Village Managers can consider if they find themselves nearing leadership burnout.

Here they are:

  1. Know your early warning signs. Common burnout symptoms include poor sleep, loss of motivation, exhaustion, feeling every day at work is a bad day, increased irritability and engaging in escapist behaviours like excessive drinking. This is a time to take action.
  2. Empower your team and delegate more – share your vision and purpose and reduce micro-managing.
  3. Become more deliberate with your time. Use your leisure time wisely. Seek out positive people and sources of relaxation and achievement outside of work.
  4. Take a break20 minutes a day. No texting, no internet, just you and an introspective practice (like mindfulness). What you do during this time can vary. What matters most is that you’re away from your tasks. Unplug!
  5. Rewind, reflect, remember – take time to remember why you’re doing what you do. What is your purpose? Why is this work so important to you? What do you hope to achieve?
  6. Get the fundamentals right – diet, sleep and exercise.
  7. Honestly assess your situationand work toward solutions. Ask yourself the following questions: “Why am I doing what I am doing? What’s one thing can I change today? What action can I take to alter my situation? Can I allow myself to take a break from my current situation? How long would I need?”
  8. Mentally remove yourself from the job – step back and try to look at your job from an external objective point of view. Imagine how others might view your responsibilities and the expectations they would reasonably hold.
  9. Manage your energy, not your time. Work out when you are most productive and do important tasks then. Chart your energy and rank activities in terms of whether they energise you or drain you. Then do what you’re best at when you’re at your best
  10. Increase your self-efficacy – the belief in your own ability to accomplish and exercise control over personally meaningful goals and tasks. The most direct and effective way to enhance self-efficacy is through performance mastery experiences. Seek out coaching and professional development experiences to identify mastery experiences. 

The Village Manager’s role is crucial to the success of the village, including the happiness and wellbeing of village residents and staff. 

First and foremost, it is vital that you look after your own wellbeing to ensure you are able to continue to look after residents and staff.

If you find yourself getting close to the point where you feel like you need the oxygen mask, please consider a courageous conversation with a senior leader, contacting human resources, phoning your organisational Employee Assistance Program, visiting your GP or calling Lifeline 13 11 14.

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