Healthista sat down with Pippa Ruxton, executive coach and founder of Polygon Coaching, to discuss 5 ways you can bounce back from burnout if you find yourself in a career slump, plus how to get the most out of your current role
Burnt out? Feel stuck in your career? You’re not alone.
The issue of burnout and a lack of motivation related to work, has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years especially after COVID.
In the past two years alone, 88 per cent of employees have experienced burnout to some degree, according to LumApps, an employee experience platform.
Healthista spoke to Pippa Ruxton, executive coach and founder of Polygon Coaching, to tackle the conversation surrounding burnout and what to do when you find yourself in a career slump.
#1 Know What You Want
While this step may seem simple, knowing yourself and knowing where you want to get to in your job is the foundation to getting the most out of your professional life. But, as you examine your current role so you can reach your maximum potential, it’s also important to know what career success means to you.
Career success differs for everyone
For one person, career success may mean a high salary or a leadership role, but it can be much more subjective than that.
‘Getting the most out of your career might mean meeting your purpose or realising your own goals. It could mean having social networks as part of your job, or maybe having perceived opportunities for promotion or growth,’ Ruxton says.
As soon as you know exactly what you want out of your career, you’ll be able to stay motivated in order to reach your goals.
READ MORE: Workplace overwhelm? Psychologist reveals how to find the perfect work/life balance
#2 Understand Your Skillset
Now that you know what you want, it’s time to start getting there by knowing (and showing) your skillset and potential.
Ruxton recommends taking an inventory of your abilities, including hard skills, like writing, knowing a second language or being proficient in math, as well as soft skills such as, time management, collaboration and critical thinking.
You can assess your skills in a few ways, by seeing what you are being recognised for or taking inspiration from personal development reviews.
For a more hands-on approach, Ruxton tells her own clients to pick out five people they have a good working relationship with and ask these questions:
- What are three things you think I do well?
- What are three things you’d like to see more of from me?
‘What you’re doing there is, yes, you are narrowing down what your skill set is, what you are known for, but you’re also showing an openness to growth,’ Ruxton says.
READ MORE: Employee wellbeing & workplace wellness – here’s how to supercharge your staff
#3 Fill in the Gaps
When it comes to a motivation slump or burnout, Ruxton says it’s important to take a step back and ‘look in’ on your role from the outside. By looking at what is working well and where the gaps are in your career, you can shift your focus to aspects of your job that you do enjoy while filling in those gaps.
‘If you start looking at some of the positives, then it makes it easier to shift to a more constructive growth mindset,’ Ruxton says.
To fill in the gaps, it’s best to think back to the previous steps: knowing what you want and knowing how to show off your potential.
Think about what you want to be known for
When tackling this step in the process, Ruxton says to use these questions to guide you:
- What are the small actions you can do to become more known for the topics you are interested in?
- Who needs to see those actions at work? Managers? Colleagues?
Doing these actions, no matter how small, can help you do more of the work you find motivating and help you bounce back from burnout.
READ MORE: Women at work: how to make yourself heard
#4 Don’t be Afraid of Difficult Conversations
Difficult conversations in the workplace, whether you’re asking for a raise or more support, are inevitable. These types of situations can be especially tricky for women.
‘So often, women are particularly hard on themselves. When in a difficult situation, we can be particularly harsh on ourselves in thinking, ‘maybe I did something wrong,’ but very often, that’s not the case,’ Ruxton says.
When dealing with these nerve-wracking conversations, there’s a few things you can do to prepare for the big talk.
Focus on the things you can control in the situation
You can’t necessarily control what your superior will say to you, but you can control your mindset, what you will say and how you say it, what you want out of the conversation and how you support yourself.
‘Focusing on the things you can control is much more helpful than letting your mind spin off into, perhaps more emotive routes or catastrophic thinking,’ Ruxton says.
When you’re having the actual conversation, make sure to provide evidence of where the mutual expectations and the actual outcome misaligned.
Ruxton also stresses the importance of asking for your manager’s perspective on the situation.
‘That way, you’re enabling your manager or your peer or whomever it is to have their say and also to feel heard. If they feel they have been heard, then they are more likely to move into a state of problem-solving and finding a constructive way forward,’ Ruxton says.
READ MORE: 10 ways to improve mental health at work
#5 Know When to Quit
If worse comes to worst, sometimes the best thing you can do is quit and look for other opportunities that will be more beneficial to you.
A telltale sign that it’s time to leave
When you are recognising patterns in your career that you’ve tried to resolve and they still don’t meet your expectations, that usually means it’s time to quit.
However, before you leave, Ruxton advises leaving things on a positive note, as you never know when the relationships you’ve formed will be useful to you again.
As Executive Coach and Founder of Polygon Coaching, Pippa Ruxton supports ambitious individuals who are passionate about unlocking the potential of their careers.
Her coaching credentials, 20-year prior corporate career and ability to connect quickly help her clients feel more motivated and take actions aligned with their goals.
Her client base ranges from Oxford University executive MBA and leadership students to FTSE 100 companies to fledgling entrepreneurs and many more.
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