Leadership Update is a free electronic monthly newsletter by David A. Weiman, Psy.D. and www.leadershipfirst.com. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential. Please feel free to forward unedited copies of this newsletter.
- Quotable: The Pundits Speak
- Leadership: Burnout is on the Rise
- Hiring 101: Beyond the Interview
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
Quotable: The Pundits Speak
“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.” – Orson Welles
“If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” – J. Paul Getty
LEADERSHIP: BURNOUT IS ON THE RISE
An article in the April 14 New York Times reports a rising trend: Executive burnout. Just how bad is it? According to one survey, more than 470 chief executives of major companies left their jobs in the first half of 2001, up 22 percent over the previous year. And while there are a number of reasons why they left, many indicated that stress and burnout were the cause of their departure.
It’s not just chief executives who are hitting the wall. Managers at all levels are under more pressure than ever to produce immediate results. The learning curve for managers used to be a few years, and mistakes were to be expected. Now, managers are expected right away to meet unrealistic sales goals, achieve impossible deadlines and squeeze everything they can out of their own overworked staffs.
Because leaders tend to be highly achievement-oriented, overstressed executives may be the last ones to notice or even acknowledge that they are burning out. Also, many successful businesspeople recognize that a certain amount of stress is necessary for them to succeed. So it may be harder for them to recognize when motivational stress has crossed over to the unhealthy kind.
The signals that you are overstressed include significant changes in the amount you smoke, drink or eat, being more prone to angry outbursts or accidents, family problems (often caused by allowing work to take priority), sleep disturbances, depression, and a variety of physical symptoms including headaches, back or neck pain, stomach problems and more.
The organizational consequences of stress are often overlooked or discounted. Those costs include increased absenteeism, high turnover, production problems, low morale, poor decision making, higher healthcare costs and more.
The best way to deal with work-related stress is to address the sources first. The demands of the position may have to be restructured so that they can be realistically accomplished, more staff may be needed, or the executive may decide to leave the job for something that’s a better fit. The job itself has to be balanced with regular leisure activities and planned time off to prevent burnout. And there has to be enough social support within the work environment for executives to feel that they are not alone in their efforts.
After the sources of the stress have been addressed, coping strategies for dealing with the inevitable stressors of executive life will be helpful. Those strategies include relaxation training, writing and talking about stressors, exercise, good nutrition and more.
How stress emerges and moves around and through organizations can be subtle. And many staff members who are overstressed might not be willing to reveal it if they think their jobs will be in jeopardy if they do. If you feel overstressed (or if you don’t but others think you are), it might be a good time for an individual or organizational stress assessment. Contact me for more information.
Copyright 2002-2004 by David A. Weiman, Psy.D. All rights reserved.
HIRING 101: BEYOND THE INTERVIEW
The Harvard Business Review once reported that between 30% and 50% of executive-level hires end in firings or resignations. And other sources suggest that nearly half of new hires, executive or not, won’t meet supervisors’ expectations.
What gives? Effective hiring is a strategy that should be well planned long before the applicant walks through the door for an interview. Make sure that you’ve assessed your company’s needs, and confirm that those needs are a fit with the open position description. Don’t have a job description? Create one. Hiring without a concrete job description is like trying to build a house without blueprints. And aside from the responsibilities of the job, include competencies you think are necessary for success in the position, such as a customer-service orientation, or good team-building skills.
Also, keep in mind that the assessment of a potential applicant begins long before they actually walk in the door. Everything they do is relevant, from how they send you their resume to how available they are to come in for an interview appointment. Watch for warning signs like:
- poorly organized resumes
- mistakes or false information on resumes and cover letters
- failure to provide information requested in help wanted ads, like salary requirements or work samples
- delays in returning your phone calls
Also, take note of how applicants behave in the waiting area prior to the interview. Are they busy reviewing their own resume or reading material you provided to them about your company? That’s good. Are they distracting your receptionist with questions about how long employees get for lunch? That’s bad. There are many other ways to evaluate the clues applicants unwittingly provide to you about themselves. Contact me for more ideas about how to tighten up your assessment process.
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Reader’s Forum: Your Observations
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ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy.D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive development. For information or a consultation, please call (610) 642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041