• Paul DeChant MD, MBA

Lead Your Team Out of Burnout

How many people do you lead? Are you:

  • In an office with just a few support staff?

  • Running a service in the hospital with 10-20 support staff or more?

  • Directing a division with a few hundred?

  • Or, the CEO with thousands of people reporting up to you through multiple channels?

No matter what your leadership span is, you can make a difference if you remember, and act upon, one key concept:

The Problem With Burnout is the Workplace, Not the Worker
And . . . We Can Fix the Workplace!

I think of the opposite of burnout as professional fulfillment. We find professional fulfillment in taking care of others, usually our patients, but also our co-workers and those who may report up to us.


In those times that we are deeply connecting with others, we are in "The Zone".


In a the workplace that is poorly designed, rife with inefficiency and waste, it's hard to be present in those special moments of connecting to others. There are just too many problems pulling us away from The Zone.


Such problems, in their essence, are the drivers of burnout. How do problems pull us out of the zone? Let's start by identifying the drivers of burnout:

  • Work Overload - when we are working in an overly demanding, time pressured, and chaotic environment, it's hard to pull ourselves out of the maelstrom to deeply connect with others.

  • Lack of Control - if we are focused on doing our best to make sure nothing goes wrong in the chaos that surrounds us, it's hard to focus on connecting.

  • Insufficient Reward - it's hard to know if we've done the right thing when we don't get recognized for doing so. It's not unusual to have someone point out to us when we do the wrong thing, but those rewards for doing the right thing are far too rare.

  • Breakdown of Community - connecting to our wonderful colleagues is one of the great side-benefits of caring for patients. Finding even small amounts of time to do so is increasingly a challenge.

  • Absence of Fairness - when we experience the stings of micro-aggressions, or worse, are treated blatantly unfairly, it's tough to tap into our personal reserves to care for others.

  • Conflicting Values - when it feels like the organization values financial performance to the detriment of patient care and/or staff support, we wonder if we are working in the right place, and lose motivation.

So here's your first step - Pick one or two of the six drivers of burnout, and pay attention during your workday to the ways those drivers pop up.


Once you learn to recognize them, you can think about how to minimize them. You may be able to do some of this alone.


Don't forget, healthcare is a team sport. It's worth talking this over with your teammates, tapping into their great ideas as well.


In fact - this is a great way to start connecting to, and caring for, each other!


We'll build on this theme in more posts to come. For now, if you have any insights or questions, just pop them into the chat.


Let's get a conversation going!