#19 Preventing burnout and Reengaging with Monique Valcour

Monique Valcour


Monique Valcour joins us for this episode. She is an executive coach, a management professor, and a frequent contributor of Harvard Business Review. Monique discusses what burnout is, the symptoms it brings, the effects it has on an organization, and how to prevent it.

What is burnout and how does it manifest itself?

Burnout is an occupational stress syndrome that consists of three primary categories of symptoms:

  1. Exhaustion: feeling that you just don’t have any more to give and drained.
  2. Cynicism: a loss of meaning that was previously felt now showing up as a negative attitude towards your workplace.
  3. A sense of reduced personal efficacy: struggling to do the core elements of your job which used to be relatively simple.

How can you tell when a person is in real danger of burnout?

It’s important to think to yourself about how you are feeling and what you are excited about in the upcoming week. If you feel like there are dreadful feelings or a lack of excitement, that’s a good sign that you have burnout. If you’re finding that you’re always tired, that may be another sign.

“One way to think about burnout is that your demands are outstripping the resources you have to meet those demands.”

What are some of the consequences for an organization when people face burnout?

At the organizational level, we see:

  • Lower levels of employee engagement.
  • Lower levels of retention.
  • Higher turnover.
  • Higher manifestations of stress.
  • More absenteeism.
  • Lower commitment.
  • A negative impact on performance.

How can you prevent burnout?

Monique often does an audit that asks questions of an individual’s energy resources and makes changes accordingly. These questions include:

  • How well are you taking care of yourself physically, including your mental resources?
  • What is the quality of your interpersonal relationships within the team or organization?
  • What is the sense of purpose that you are enjoying in your work?

As an individual, it’s crucial to regularly ask yourself:

  • “What are the things I’ve accomplished?”
  • “What are the key objectives that will help move my work forward?”
  • “Do I have people I collaborate with who are energizing for me?”
  • “Are there some relationships I should reduce my exposure to?”

The most common ineffective strategy is spending more time working to get ahead in order to not fall behind on work.

What’s one message Monique would like to share?

Although careers are long, life is short. It’s always good to be able to step back and ask yourself “If the amount of time I had on this earth was suddenly much more limited than I anticipated, is this what I would be wanting to do with my time?"

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