3 Strategies To Manage Burnout in Your Architecture Practice at Year’s End

Here are three tips to help support staff during the busy holiday period.

Archibiz Archibiz

Archibiz provides business education and consultancy services to architectural practices globally. Through courses, coaching and other business advisory services, Archibiz helps architects fill in the gaps in their business education so they can lead more profitable and sustainable practices. Sign up to receive their Mentor Memos here.

As a leader of the practice, it is up to you to motivate and energize your team to do the best work they possibly can. Yet, there are certain times of the year – perhaps seasons – where it is easier to motivate than  others.

The end-of-year holiday period can be an exciting time for most people. There are joyful reunions with families and loved ones, holiday parties, New Years’ festivities and plenty to celebrate. However, at the same time, this period is also notorious for a lack of productivity in the office.

Some employees are burned out, racing to the finish line to meet goals before the year ends. Other employees may be in and out of the office altogether, stalling projects that should have been finished weeks prior. Whatever the case may be, it can be tough to inspire people at this time of year.

As the owner of a practice, there are three strategies you can take to minimize burnout and motivate employees during the holiday period. Ray Brown, Archibiz Chief Mentor and Co-Founder — and a recent guest on Architizer’s popular Live Series, Mistakes Well Made — draws on his experience and shares his insights.

1. Coach, Don’t Play  

As the leader, part of your job is to develop your staff’s skills and expertise. In other words, your success lies in how well you can get your team to complete the work at hand so that you don’t have to do it, allowing you to focus on the big picture.

So, the first strategy is to “coach, don’t play.”

By encouraging your team to take on tasks that might be a little outside of their comfort zone, they’ll feel that you trust them and thus want to rise to the occasion. This challenge will then motivate your employees to get to work and prove themselves.

According to Ray, when you “focus on developing your staff, you get the best of other people.”

2. Manage the Energy 

The second strategy is to manage the energy.

“Energy is a really important aspect in any organization, but it’s sometimes taken for granted,” Ray explains. “As the leader, you need to manage the energy so you can feel when it is dipping and bring it back up.”

So, how does one exactly manage the energy?

The first step is to have a high level of awareness. As an owner, you should be able to pick up on clues and recognize where there is a problem. For example, if you are leading a staff meeting and you notice that no one is contributing or people are standing with their arms folded, this could be an indication that you have an energy-related issue at hand.

It is then up to you to take steps to mitigate those issues.

That might include pulling some senior staff members aside to inquire what the issues might be, or scheduling an after-work event to try and boost morale.

Remember to be flexible too. Energy is not something that we can simply set and forget. You need to manage the energy — not set the energy — and view it as an ever-changing process.

Some days it’ll be easier to manage than others, and that’s perfectly fine. All that matters is that you pay attention to it and work to make it the best it can be for everyone around.

3. Sell the Vision 

Much like energy, vision is another one of those intangible elements in an architecture practice that we must pay attention to.

Vision is that energizing view of the future that motivates you and your employees to show up every day. It’s where you want to be in five or ten years. Yet, vision won’t matter much if it’s not communicated to your employees.

As a business leader, you want your employees to be able to tie their personal vision to your  business vision. In other words, you want your employees to be able to picture themselves getting that promotion and working on higher-end projects in a few years time so that they can feel motivated about their own personal goals, and not just the business owner buying a new car or moving into a bigger home.

It is the leader’s job to keep the vision conversation front of mind for all employees, even during the busy holiday period.

One way to sell the vision during this time of year is to reflect on the year that has past and talk  about the year ahead, perhaps during a holiday party or end-of-year staff meeting. Discuss the  highlights of the year, but make sure to stress how next year will be even better for them.

Many leaders underestimate the power they can have on employees.

By taking on these three strategies, you will be leading by example. Not only will you motivate your employees, you will be demonstrating to them that you care about each of them and want to put in the work yourself to empower them to be the best versions they can be.

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