#prpd2021 Burnout Session Thread starts now! The wonderful @JWhitePubRadio is hosting and we have a super star panel - @IrvWashington3 @meswift and LaToya Linzey from CPR.
We're off and running with a fundamental question of: How do we address this disconnect between this mission driven work and the need for more resources behind it to meet our goals? We can't solve the problems today, but we can have a conversation about them.
Burnout is ultimately about engagement from employee to employer and back again, from LaToya Linzey's perspective. @IrvWashington3 says it's incumbent upon us as managers and team members to look for the signs that "this isn't working for me" in ourselves and peers.
@meswift calls out the nature of research on the topic starting with the set of symptoms medical professionals were feeling and worked to define. The challenge is seeing that stress before it becomes catastrophic and unmanageable for individuals.
Asking simple questions to figure out whether workloads are manageable is step one for managers. Are managers trained for that? Short version from @IrvWashington3 "absolutely not."
We get promoted due to skill, success, and competence in journalism or "I shaped" as @meswift calls it. And you either actively choose to learn or figure out by trial and error. But we need to be "T shaped" and develop different skills that need to be invested in.
Self-care is important, but not the only solution. The issue is systemic. As @IrvWashington3, for leaders, "what does it mean to disrupt the system if you're in charge of it?" It overlaps with conversations we're having around race and social unrest, which are feeding burnout.
If you're African American or Asian American the likelihood you're thinking of leaving your job skyrockets per @meswift's research, which underlines a tension we see in public radio and media more broadly, as @JWhitePubRadio points out - how do we build and retain diverse talent?
Culture is built on a 1:1 level and anyone assigned to a management role has people 'in their care' and you need to be deliberate and intentional about who those people are and how they understand their role, per @IrvWashington3
And if we think the mission is bigger and more important than individual well being, we need to reconcile that. There's a new generation saying "you can stay that way, I'll go elsewhere."
LaToya Linzey is calling out that we are in a shifting landscape and it's not going to be easy, and there's a difference between being a manager and a leader. Which I am personally HERE to echo and stress and amplify.
@IrvWashington3 speaks to this question of "how do we operationalize our values" as an organization. Because one reason we hypothesize that people are leaving their roles because their employers values do not align with their own, which has been highlighted during the pandemic.
No one wants to have a difficult, negative conversation, but @meswift says you need to call out the artifacts - the receipts! - and say "the tone of this email doesn't reflect our values" and @IrvWashington3 says we have to get comfortable with the fact we can't just solve it...
There's not one answer to the question of how we rebuild a sense of community in our organizations after so long remote, either, as LaToya Linzey highlights. Which just underlines that we need to try and fail and try again, for me. "We don't always have to have the answer."
@IrvWashington3 points out that the success of efforts to build teams and boost spirits reflects the amount of effort that goes into them. Surprise elements have been successful for his team and organization. Something you don't put much effort into? Probably not a hit.
@meswift calls out that once you get to a certain level of tiredness, it's basically the same as being drunk at work. Which....is entirely too real and feels like a fundamental truth we should talk about more. It hit me in my BONES.
And LaToya Linzey calls out the importance of asking questions of your team - if someone is clearly stretched and doesn't seem to want to take time off....ask why not! Then solve for the reason why not.
How do we manage cultural competence, leadership, and managing burnout. First thing, "make the space to have these conversations. Normalize it." and a key question to ask, that @IrvWashington3 loves across these issues "is this working for you?"
LaToya Linzey also calls out the importance of "walking the walk" and being transparent about the ways in which you're guarding yourself against burnout as a leader.
For transparency, I have a PA helping with this panel today…
We need to be mindful of communication we have and how we frame it. Centering intent is key in literally all of your engagements, especially if you're a leader. @IrvWashington3 is wise and this is KEY. People are always listening, even when you're not talking.
We also need to stay mindful that we are journalism organizations, but there are different needs in different departments. Whatever department you're in, you're feeling stretched and stressed.
A pull quote from an anonymous email we received that speaks to this: "Overall, it just seems that management is very keen to acknowledge and warn against burnout, but is taking very few steps to actually curb it..."
A question to ask "is this something we have to do at 100 or can we have really good results at 60%" As @IrvWashington3 points out these are hard conversations and decisions, but if we need to relevel they're key.
I have had some of those conversations and made those hard decisions and it is not easy, but my goodness, they are important.
But they run against the DNA of public media. And @meswift says this is a key issue we have to resolve in modern work. You would never run a machine at 100% all day every day. But we will run people at 150% all day every day. Which is not sustainable. Sing it, Melissa!
@meswift @JWhitePubRadio brings us to "the two Ts" - trust and time. As @IrvWashington3 says people want to know how you're going to act on the way people feel and your values. LaToya says from an HR PoV you need to be proactive. We can't always be reactive.
@meswift says it's important to remember the sprint and the marathon are currently part of the same race. So pace yourself! And also...believe people and what they tell you about their experiences! Especially if they're counter to your own.
And that's a wrap on my live tweets. Ty to our panelists and moderator - it sounds like PRPD may put the session outside of the paywall for all, so stay tuned for links!

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