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What to do when exhaustion is taking its toll

The fighting spirit of the first few months of the pandemic have come and gone. But what should you do now that the idea that “we’re all in this together” arouses only skepticism, frustration, and blatant disengagement?

Following the adrenaline rush of the early stages of the pandemic, when company employees pulled together in a spirit of unity, the sudden realization that the situation could last for several more months or years has come as a gloom-laden shock, resulting in withdrawal and even toxic behavior.  

Leading your team and business when the whole world is tired requires a new kind of resilience and emotional rewiring to keep your team’s psychological endurance alive. There are three key steps you should take: 

Learn to distinguish between urgency and importance. Avoid the temptation to deal with what’s urgent and postpone what’s important until after the pandemic. 

Balance compassion and combativeness: although the former is needed to avoid the side-effects of isolation, inspiring your team to face upcoming challenges is also important. 

Energize everyone, every day — by sharing success stories, initiating competitions, improving communication, shortening time-sucking video conferences. How you do it matters less than the fact that you do it on a daily basis.  

These steps will go a long way toward building a high degree of resilience in your team, thus avoiding feelings of gloom, frustration, anger, indecision, and toxicity. Managing your own perspectives is the first place to start. 

To go further

How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too

y Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg (Harvard Business Review, December 2020).

Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.