devleads - let's talk about professional burnout

    Hello! As part of the devleads project, the guys and I decided to make a podcast for everyone who is not indifferent to IT management - timblids, development managers and the like.

    Who are we:

    • I, Ilya Tsarev, head of mobile development at Alfa-Bank.
    • Ilya Kuznetsov, imJustik , Alfa-Bank's iOS Timlide.
    • Nikita Maidanov, NikoGenn , Head of Mobile Development at Welps.

    In this issue we will touch upon the subject of professional burnout (in particular, burnout of the Timlide) and related myths. And psychologist Anastasia Kalashnikova will help us in this.

    We will talk about the prevention of burnout, why it’s okay to tell colleagues “No”, what to do if the chef is at work for 10 hours, and you are uncomfortable because of this leaving on time, and about many other things.

    - My name is Anastasia, I am a psychologist, and most of my clients are people from IT. Developers, testers, designers, admins and others. We often discuss non-technical problems faced by IT professionals, including burnout, the topic of an impostor and the like.

    - Tell me, please, what is “burnout” in general?

    - Burnout is a psycho-emotional state, in which there is an increasing emotional exhaustion, entailing a number of problems in the field of work and relationship with himself. Here it is important not to confuse the usual fatigue and burnout (we will return to this later), but right away we begin by noting that burnout and fatigue are two different things. Fatigue is when you can just go to relax and everything goes away, immediately feel better. And burnout is already a situation when something in life needs to be changed, until everything starts to crumble.

    - What is the cause of burnout?

    - There are ubiquitous common causes. Here and workload, and high demands on himself, and the lack of expected remuneration for their work, both material and intangible.

    And there are private reasons, typical for IT. High rates of technology development, the requirements that companies place on employees, fierce competition, constant disputes, who is better. One of the frequent reasons is the lack of business processes. This happens, unfortunately, in many companies, even in very large ones - some important business processes are not built in the right way, so employees are in a rather unsystematic, chaotic mode.

    - That is, the code review can also lead to burnout?

    - Yes, the code review, if it is illiterately built and unprofessionally carried out, can lead to burnout. And also constant trolling, constant baiting. Or when the supervisor pays attention only to what the employee did poorly and makes only comments. As a result, instead of feedback, only negative is obtained. Here, the manager usually thinks that the purpose of all this is to help the employee grow through such criticism. In fact, a whip without gingerbread also leads to burnout. A person constantly finds himself in a situation when he thinks that he is bad and does something wrong. And if it is also superimposed on the impostor syndrome, then it’s generally a disaster.

    - OK, there is a burnout, and there is fatigue, these are different things. How to understand that I started to burn out, or what has already been burned out? Before everything started to fall apart?

    - How to understand that burnout has come is a good question. It is believed that in the case of burnout it is better to carry out prevention than to correct the consequences. When a person has already got into this situation, it is rather difficult to get out of it.

    Burnout has three classic signs:

    1. Exhaustion. In an emotional sense, in the cognitive, in the motivational.
    2. Discord in relationships. Quite cynical attitude towards people and towards oneself, constantly dissatisfaction with oneself and others, conflicts. Yesterday's friend turns into a man who has an ax behind his back (conditionally, of course).
    3. Feeling of own insolvency. When it seems that everything is bad and in general the whole world is against you.

    These are the three most important points. All this can be due to inexperience confused with depression - and this burnout is also scary.

    - At the same time they should be observed all at once, or is it enough of the manifestation of any one?

    - No, they are observed all together.

    - Yeah. But if I don’t want to go to work on Monday, I hate people and so on, is it already burnout, or am I just rested?

    - Here we must look at the duration. We can talk about burnout if such a negative state is observed for more than 14 days. If this is something momentary, a bad weekend there, or a difficult release is one thing, you can rest, eat normally and that's it. And if this continues to last after the weekend, and after the promotion from the team leader, there is already a reason to think.

    - Basically, I see. How is it dangerous for a person as an employee?

    - Indeed, why is it so terrible that you don’t like people at all? Firstly, when a person burns out, he often conflicts. Conditionally - toxic people. Secondly, attentiveness and effectiveness are significantly reduced. The person ceases to take complex or diverse tasks, takes only something of the same type, where the pure mechanics of the form “Made-put”. If you need to delve into something, to understand this, then he no longer takes it into work. Accordingly, the indicators are reduced as an employee may be asked to leave the company.

    Here several spheres of life suffer: both work and personal life. Often, all these difficulties at work affect the family, and problems also begin there. Because it is difficult to endure a person who is constantly in aggression, in negative, in anger. And here the family begins to influence the person.

    Here it is important to remember that this can develop into more serious conditions in which it is already necessary to connect a specialist with medical education.

    - They say that if you are depressed, then you need to eat a chocolate bar, and everything will pass. Does it work?

    “This is the story of just sleeping.” Chocolate and sweet help to raise your mood, yes, but it is important to understand that with depression there are eating disorders and a person can overeat. And junk food, which has a rather destructive effect.

    - How often do people with such a problem turn to you as a specialist with private practice, how popular is it?

    - Often. This is generally one of the most frequent topics. And it does not always sound so obvious, like “I burned out, what to do?”, No. It may be complaints like "I have problems in the team, everything is furious, I have got the techwire at all, but the product is idiotic." You start to understand this, it turns out that a couple of months ago it was a dream team with a perfect product, and now everything is like this. The man does not realize that he is fading, he thinks that the whole world has turned against him.

    This is often the case with IT specialists, because here the work / life-balance comes into play, along with processing, a certain harshness of the environment. There is always a requirement to do something cooler and faster, while you rarely hear at least “Well done” in response. Because all of these processing and the creation of something cool where you can just work smoothly and calmly, are perceived simply as the standard performance of work duties. “This is your job, why say thanks for it.” Here with this come to me quite often.

    - Burnout is now quite a popular topic, often written about it in social networks. How often do people themselves make such a diagnosis?

    - Good question. People often diagnose themselves, but not always correctly. Sometimes people just come to chat, these are situations like “I don’t have much to do here, I don’t know what to do, I’ll go chatting.” But this is 1 out of 10. Conventionally, one out of ten actually needs to just come cry. But, by the way, this is a diagnosis of burnout, which actually is not, it is also not from a good life. And the desire to just talk with someone and be heard is often due to the fact that there is almost no communication in the team. One of the cases - a person comes to work in the open space, and there everyone sits with his back to him and ignores him. No hello, not yet.

    “I’ve just flipped through one article right now, it says here that in companies like Netflix and Apple, the number of employees who are burned out or have already burned out is approaching 50%. Where do you think the problem is more relevant - in large companies or small ones?

    - I think that in large it is observed more often. Especially rarely in startups, where almost all employees are founders. Because a startup is a story about how they sat down and in the kitchen came up with an awesome product and started to actively do it. And when the company grows, everything begins with the attraction of money and investors, stories begin about the fact that someone forgot to encourage, they did not pay attention to processing, and the like. In large companies, this is not done deliberately, it’s just corny people, there are fewer Eychars than is required.

    - So what to do if it seems that fatigue was delayed?

    - The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Just throw it all away and admit it. The second is to slow down, relax and rest. Take a vacation for a few days, take a break. Tune in to the mode that the work during working hours, and at home you rest. This is the hardest thing to refuse in the current realities, yes. But it is necessary to gradually introduce it into your life. Introduce something other than work.

    Often, psychologists recommend activity and proper nutrition. In the case of IT people, proper nutrition is to make sure that nutrition in general is in principle. Because they are often earned and tritely forget to leave for lunch. Gone to the stream and that's it, all day. Forget to eat - set a reminder. Seriously.

    - By the way, about the flow. If you burned out, then how can there be a flow condition, if everything is already zadolbalo?

    - Well, you can still go to the stream, just not in the context of productivity and some kind of positive attitude. But you can go into your own thoughts and solve the problem. It's just that this is not the flow, it is not about motivation and effectiveness. In general, you can notice when people burn themselves into a burnout - they sit and watch just the screen. It seems that they are here, but in fact there is no look at all.

    - As for the food, the advice is relevant, yes, I once set myself a reminder, it helps.

    - And this is actually a problem for the IT-environment. Many companies have food, kitchens, etc., but employees simply forget about it. Or they eat, but in the five-minute mode - he threw the food into himself as he went and went on coding.

    - I'll share my experience here. It is known that the system begins to regulate itself. My colleagues from the office specially created chat to go to dinner together and so that no one would forget to eat. And quite often it happens that someone writes and reminds that it is time to have a snack. It works, we go to lunch twice.

    - You are great. At the activity and nutrition must pay attention. Let's start with the fact that IT people usually have physical activity not at the forefront. And when burnout and this level sags, so you should try to return to the sport. To some clients, I sometimes say that it’s right for them to walk for about 15 minutes a day.

    And it is also very important to remember the boundaries. You can sometimes say “No” to people, you need to understand that it is normal to refuse any requests, not to take on additional burden. If a person is already overloaded, but at the same time continues to do everything out of politeness or out of habit to agree, this leads to burnout.

    And if you don’t like something, you need to talk about it, go and discuss it with the boss, with the technical leader.

    - You mentioned activity. What kind of activity helps in these cases?

    - Yes, even walking on professional mitaps to share with people what you are doing and what is happening to you. Generally speaking with colleagues is helpful. People at burnout, in principle, begin to communicate less with others, simply because the burnout itself is based, including on the belief that everything is against you.

    - And what activities are definitely not worth taking?

    - Well, for example, it is definitely not worth to plump every day. This, even without burnout, is not a particularly fun prospect. But these self-cares with the help of alcohol or substances are generally dangerous, it only leads to further self-destruction.

    And you should not change everything all at once. A person at burnout may think that you just need to dump from the company, and everything will be different. In fact, he will come to a new job with the same settings and rules, and simply repeat the same path, but with a different badge. There is no need for harsh actions, it is necessary to slow down and give yourself a rest, eat normally, move.

    What else you should not do - to conflict with everyone.

    - You talked a lot about work / life-balance. What it is? If I come home after work from 9 am to 6 pm to lower the ceiling - is this a balance?

    - I do not think that there are any clear rules and definitions, such as "This is the balance, but this thing is no longer." I believe that balance is when there is something in your life that matters to you, besides work. If it is important for you to go to the gym and see your family - this is your life, and when you leave work on time, you will not feel guilty about this, saying, why did you leave on time, and everyone is working further. And because this is your life, this is your balance, and if you stop going to the rocking chair or see a child, then you start worrying about it, this sphere of your life will go down. And this will affect the work.

    If it’s OK for you to just sit and just work without any reason, please. There is already a question of honesty with yourself.

    - I understand correctly here that balance is rather something emotional?

    - This is about your values ​​and about those things and events that you relate to them, about your borders, about whether you know what it is important for you to do besides work, are you not afraid for that to leave on time. It’s like trying to put priority between what’s more important - eating or drinking. It is clear that without water you run out faster, but in general you cannot do without water and without food.

    - What to do in a situation if it is very important for me to work well? For example, I develop mobile applications, and I believe that until my application is the best in everything, I can’t quit my job. And moreover, this fact drives me. How to live with it?

    - To the psychologist to descend. Here it is important to remember that we are all human, and our nervous system can be depleted and it needs to reboot. Even with a very high motivation, you need to rest, just switch and not work. It happens, of course, that people do work after work and are completely happy at the same time, but here we have to look at the perspective. Ask such a person what he wants in the future, after three years. He will answer - I want to get married, have children, go to rest.

    And how will he do all this if he is at work for 24 hours and for him this is the norm of life? Here it is necessary to determine the ultimate value and start from it.

    - And if all my colleagues are also charged with work and they stay up late, nobody wants to leave? After all, everything lingers around, how to be here?

    - And you yourself is OK? No, of course, there may be a joke that colleagues linger, because you have a circle of interests there, and after a couple of years you’ll run something awesome for the entire company.

    - Well, here's another question. I had managers in Alpha who worked from 8 am to 8 pm. And I realized that they spend at work for 12 hours, and I - hours 8. And here there are questions ...

    - Yeah, this can strain. There is a story with the requirements for yourself from the head. He thinks that since he is a manager, it means an example for the rest that translates this behavior and schedule to them. In fact, it broadcasts a destruktiv and sows anxiety. Because when the boss works so hard, the employees start to recycle. Here, the manager should already look at why a particular employee is delayed at work and reworked. Maybe a person's mother-in-law came to visit, and he didn’t want to go home at all. Or maybe he is not confident in his work, in its quality. Therefore, he is sitting and is afraid to leave on time, suddenly fired, if he leaves earlier than the chief.

    - I often get so that I shake between offices. That is, for a number of developers, my schedule looks like this: I arrive at lunch, and at 5 I am already leaving. What do you think, how do they relate to this, and is it necessary to tell why this is so?

    “I have no idea how they feel about this, and I advise you not to think about it.” And if it somehow soars you - just talk to them on this subject, clarify everything. Why is it soaring you?

    - Because I used to work in the same office for 10 hours, and now I ride between the offices. What is a personal example?

    - So now you think that you are setting a personal example for employees so-so, right?

    - Rather, yes.

    - Then you need to understand yourself, what demands you make to yourself and why.

    “Damn, I knew it.” Okay, come on timlid. Who is the team leader and what is he responsible for? Let's define the terms.

    - Alfa-Bank Timlide asked me. Who is the team leader, as for me, it is still an open question, different companies understand this post as different. Someone thinks that this is just a leading developer decomposing tasks. Someone is a manager in charge of the business and who arrives for all the shoals.

    I think something is average, the person who is responsible for the team in the context of the interests of the business. Here it is important to understand that he is responsible, including for himself. That is, a person in business who is responsible for himself and transmits it to the team.

    - Timlides are subject to fading more or less than other employees? If a manager rolls from office to office - is this considered activity?

    - It is difficult to take responsibility in terms of - who is more exposed. But it is believed that people who work with people and are responsible for these people are more susceptible. There are your experiences and experiences of an employee, there are your emotions and there are emotions of an employee, and you should constantly pay attention to all these factors. In fact, you have two worlds for which you are responsible.

    - What to do to the team leader, how to notice that the employees are not just tired, but perhaps this is burnout?

    - Start with yourself. Why do you think they burn out? Can it not be such that you broadcast something of your own to them? If you suspect - call the employee to talk, discuss how he is doing, get tired. Here we have three signs of burnout - ask him questions in these planes - “are you not tired, as you rest, I noticed that you are reworking, how are things with the team” and so on.

    - Does it happen that a team leader during such meetings projects a burnout on himself and buries himself in the problems of the employees?

    - Transfer in general is a cool thing and is given in psychology by a separate course. Of course it does. It's a matter of experience - how much do you immerse yourself in a person's emotions, communicating with him. It is necessary to take care of yourself, for example, replace when talking, that takes you somewhere to the side. Why? Maybe you yourself here too something fonit? Because burnt timlid, trying to save a burned-out employee, this is a generally so-so situation.

    - What are the methods of warning of this? Team building events?

    - With prevention, it is clear that it is always preferable to treatment. Here the team need to simply monitor the workload of employees, who is stepping over in which direction. And why. Communication should be healthy, friendship, etc. can not be imposed. Especially if a person is an introvert - well, it is difficult for him to happen.

    - And if the employee himself is late at work, do you recommend sending him by force to go home?

    - No, just ask him on a tete-a-tete why he is delayed. He will say, for example, that he just kicks and likes it here. Ask why he likes it. And it may turn out that he likes it all because he has no more values ​​besides his work.

    And here we must already watch it. Because if the work will cease to be a value for him, a not weak recession can happen.

    Or he will tell you that he is just new here and is trying to catch up with the level of his colleagues. This is to you as a manager, then the question is whether everyone is objective to the requirements, how the employee feels. The question of dialogue, in general.

    - Well, more about the activity. Does a change of activity help? Say, if not sport - then play the piano there, or prepare to learn?

    - Look, when I talked about sports and walks - this is something that you definitely need to do, this is not optional. Sports and walks separately - any introduction of creativity separately. Yes, a hobby is a good thing, it's always great when something appears in life, besides work. You recollect that in your corner the guitar collects dust, you start playing again, you get pleasure from it, you charge it. The vent is good.

    Another thing is that the search for a hobby for everyone is usually in the penultimate place. Especially when you are over 20, you start to think what I am, fool here at all, to learn something new.

    But this is really cool.

    - If we summarize all of the above, what recommendations can you give for prevention?

    - Do not forget to rest and relax. Do not forget that in life there is something else besides work. For example, lunch, dinner, vacation, weekend.

    Walk, devote time to physical health. Of course, you don’t need to load yourself with a rocking chair, but some minimal activities are necessary and useful.

    Remember that saying “No” is normal and correct. If you do not like something - "No". It is useful to remember your own safety.

    If you find a hobby and hobbies that motivate you, it's generally great.


    You can listen to the audio version of the podcast here . And we have a chat in Telegram .

    Yes, by the way, Anastasia has an account on Habré, akpsyh , so you can ask here questions on the subject of burnout and the difficulties of being a team leader in general.

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