Causing worker burnout
I once had a terrific case of worker burnout. The cause, I eventually (with some help) realized, was that I had started “owning” thing over which I had no control—for example, decisions made by the Board of Directors, about 5-6 levels above me. Thus I gave myself the feeling that I had no control, which definitely leads to burnout (cf. Martin Seligman’s excellent Learned Optimism for more on this).
Once I started focusing on the area in which I did have some control (thanks in part to Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), things got better. The book is based on talks he gave about 7 habits that seemed common to a variety of highly effective people. The ideas in the book are indeed valuable, but transcribing a talk given with charts and slides can make for occasional difficult reading. Download this brief outline (PDF) and read it before or as you read the book. The outline is incomplete, but it can help. This free on-line weekly planner is based on the method described in the book and is, I think, worth a try. Give it a few months.
Let me also recommend Anne Wilson Schaef’s The Addictive Organization, which does a good job of dissecting dysfunctional organizations and how they work on you.
This was stimulated by this good post via Lifehacker.