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5 Simple Ways to Promote Burnout and Lose Talent

"Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others." — John Maxwell

The Great Resignation is upon us, and all signs indicate it’s not going away any time soon. As leaders work harder than ever to innovate new ways to find and retain talent, I thought it might be helpful to turn the tables, and consider some of the most effective ways—according to current research—that leaders may be adding to the problem by encouraging burnout and inspiring their people to quit.

So here are 5 simple ways leaders can provoke their talent to join the Great Resignation:

1. Don’t Believe Them. When your people tell you they are overworked and in danger of burning out, don’t believe a word of it. Assume they are just whining, or are scared of hard work, or that they believe they are entitled to rewards they haven’t earned. Make up a story about only wanting people who are really “hungry” and tell yourself that the current workload only serves to sift the wheat from the chaff. The healthy, teachable ones will fall in line, and eventually thank you for it.

2. Don’t Be Flexible. Lockdowns and COVID regulations have given your talent a taste of the perks of working at home, either part or all of the time. But if they ask for that new arrangement to be made permanent, don’t allow it. Demand they all come back in-house as soon as possible, where you can keep an eye on them. They’ll fall in line because ultimately they know you are a better judge of what’s good for them and their productivity.

3. Don’t Walk Your Talk. Everybody knows that company values really only apply to external customers. It’s totally fine for you to treat your talent like dumb workhorses, even as you demand they treat customers with care and respect. There’s no way they’ll ever see the hypocrisy in that, or lose faith in your company as a result.

4. Don’t Invest in Them. When you buy an expensive race car, you don’t want to ever have to think about maintenance or upgrades, right? You just want the thing to GO, and to keep going for as long as you want to drive it! It’s the same with talent. You already pay them a salary. That’s all that should be required to get them to do their job, and do it well—indefinitely. Investing in their development via professional coaching or skill-based courses is a waste of profits. They should be thankful they have a job, and just get on with it.

5. Don’t Make Your Culture a Priority. Don’t pay any attention when your people tell you they don’t feel connected to the company culture, or they feel like they’re being subjected to an “unhealthy workplace environment.” That’s all code for “I’m overly emotional,” or “I’m just young and entitled.” You don’t pay people to be touchy-feely or to get “warm fuzzies” about coming to work every day; you pay them to get a job done. Mature people come to work to get a paycheck. They don’t come to find meaning in life or to build healthy community, right? Besides, that’s not part of your job description.

Got another tip you’d like to add? Drop it in the comments below. :)

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