How Can CIOs Prevent Their Team Members From Burning Out?

by drjim on October 8, 2014

CIOs need to get their team members to take a chill pill

CIOs need to get their team members to take a chill pill
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Isn’t it the dream of every CIO to have a fully committed team? A team that understands the importance of information technology and what you are trying to accomplish as a team, has fully bought in to that dream, and is aggressively working to achieve your goals? It turns out that there is a dark side to this dream. You need to be aware of what that dark side is and how you can deal with it before it causes your team to burn out…

The Downside of Having An A-Team

At first glance, having a totally committed team would appear to be a CIO’s dream. Just think about it: your team “gets it”. Those things that you’ve decided that the IT department needs to work on are what your team is willing to work on. When you are not there, you know that they are still moving forward because they truly believe in the department’s goals.

Yes, this is a good thing. However, there is a downside to all of this. It is entirely possible that the members of your team who are so committed to accomplishing the team’s goals are going to end up burning themselves out. There’s just no way that you can fully commit yourself to accomplishing a task without starting to come apart around the edges.

As the person with the CIO job you are going to have to be looking for the tell-tale signs of burnout to start to happen within your team’s Type A’s. What you’ll start to see among your team members will be exhaustion, a loss of motivation, team members not taking care of themselves, and perhaps even health problems. This is exactly what you’d like to prevent from happening in the first place.

How To Prevent Team Burnout

As the person in the CIO position it is your job to stop burnout from happening to your team before it happens. This means several things for you. First, you are going to have to identify the Type A’s on your team – they are the most likely to burnout. Next you are going to have to keep a careful eye on them to detect if they are starting to have problems.

What you’d like to do is to take steps to prevent burnout before it happens. One of the ways that you can do this is by stopping everything that your team is doing. The reason that burnout will happen is that your Type As are going to get too consumed by their work. By calling a halt to all work, you can get their attention.

Take the team off site. Get them out of the office. This is not an IT team building exercise. Rather it is a chance for your team to take a break and spend time together not working. The key is that there needs to be no agenda and no structure to these events. As a CIO, you need to be willing to step in and command some time for your team to have fun.

What All Of This Means For You

One of a CIO’s greatest challenges is to get your team fully motivated. However, it turns out that if you are able to do this, there is a dark side to it. Members of your team may be TOO motivated and may start to become burned out as they fully throw themselves into achieving your team’s goals.

In order to prevent burnout from happening, as the CIO you need to take action. You need to pull your team out of their work environment and have them focus on doing something else for a while. Forget team building, just have the team kick back and enjoy spending time together not working. This will allow your Type A’s to chill out and will prevent burnout.

Building a high performing IT team is never easy to do. Keeping that team operating at top speed without suffering a burnout is the next step for a CIO. Take the time to allow your team to “decompress” and you’ll be able to keep them on track and not burning out!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If a team member starts to burn out, what steps should the CIO take?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you have the CIO job you realize that your success rests not on the importance of information technology, but rather firmly on the shoulders of those people who are on your team. What this means is that the process of hiring someone is a critical step in your career. Hire the right person and you’ll move forward, hire the wrong person and you may stumble or even be asked to leave the firm. How can you go about doing this correctly?

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