10 Symptoms of High Tech Career Burnout – and How to Bounce Back


Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was headed to the west coast for sales training.  “The organization was investing in us, awesome” I thought.  It was Monday and my flights were all connecting without a hitch.  I looked down at my phone to check messages while still on the tarmac at one of my connections and I saw an email with the subject “Where are you?”

Opening that email changed my future and my career.  It was a tipping point for me.

Reading that email, it became clear to me that our training was starting on Monday not Tuesday as I had assumed.  Here I was still in the air flying to the coast.  Oops!  Due to a hastily composed agenda, I thought our training was to begin on Tuesday and that Monday was a travel day.  My bad.

Long story short, I got to my training, but somewhat late.   To pour lemon juice into a paper cut it was unnecessarily made clear to the powers that be, I was late.  When I was ratted on I was thinking “Dude ,did you really have to expose my stupidity?”  Don’t you just love corporate politics?

Well, whatever the reasons for the foul up, it became clear to me that I was disengaged from my career.  I actually thought about hopping a return flight back home and bagging the entire training, not because of fear of getting canned, but because I knew in my heart that I was burned out and disengaged from my career in high tech.

How about you, do you have any stories like this from your high tech career?

The pace can be crushing in this go-go industry, especially if you are in a technology development or sales role.  The pressure created by quarterly deadlines in publicly held  companies can shave years off your life!

So how can you tell if you might be experiencing burnout from your high tech career?  Here are some signs of burnout I found from the Mayo Clinic at (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/burnout/WL00062)

How to tell if you are burned out:

  1. Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  2. Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  3. Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  4. Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  5. Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  6. Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  7. Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  8. Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  9. Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
  10. Are you routinely late or behind schedule with your projects and commitments?

What leads to burnout?

Lack of control.  An inability to control your schedule, assignments, workload.  Also, an inability to influence decisions and having access to the resources you need to succeed.

Poor job fit.  Are you serving in a role that aligns well with your strengths?  Should you really be in development?  Should you really be in sales or management?  What influenced your decision to accept your role?  Was it primarily tied to compensation?

Lack of clarity regarding job expectations. Is it clear to you how success for your role is measured?  Are those goals realistic?  Are they S.M.A.R.T. goals?  This is one of the prime triggers to burnout in publicly held organizations where management fixates on sales numbers as goals instead of focusing on measuring and rewarding the behaviors that lead to the desired sales targets.

Mismatch in personality or values.  In business there are a variety of personality types, but a major mis-alignment of personalities who must work closely together can lead to a strained work environment.  An alignment of values is also key to a healthy and peaceful work environment.  Does management treat the staff with dignity?

Social connection. For many in the tech field, prolonged isolation and lack of support and visibility from management can leave them feeling detached from the organization and eventually lead to disengagement.

Dysfunctional dynamics in the workplace.  Are you micromanaged?  Does management overlook behaviors that lead to an unsettled team?  Does management knowingly or unknowingly cultivate a divisive environment?

Balance with work and life.   Are you permitted and encouraged to take time away from your work?  Or, are you questioned when you have asked for time off?    Does management walk the walk when it comes to supporting the work-life balance?  Do you take time with your family or does the organization consume you?

Possible consequences of  prolonged burnout

  1. Stress
  2. Weariness and prolonged fatigue
  3. Difficulty sleeping
  4. Troubled relationships and family life
  5. Depression
  6. Substance abuse, alcohol usage increased
  7. Heart disease
  8. Cholesterol imbalance
  9. Potential link to type 2 diabetes, especially in women
  10. Susceptibility to stroke
  11. Obesity
  12. Susceptibility to illness

What are some of the best ways to handle burnout?

  1. Identify what is likely leading to your burnout.  Once identified, you can devise a plan to work around the triggers leading to burnout.
  2. Assess your options.  Determine if you will be able to work around the stressors leading to burnout in your current workplace and role.  If necessary, speak with HR or your supervisor to discuss a way to mitigate the issues and reduce or eradicate the burnout triggers from your work environment.
  3. Adopt a positive attitude.  You don’t have to pretend that everything is perfectly sunny, however you do need to continually realize that it’s your life and only you truly have a vested interest in its outcome.  By taking control of your own attitude and expressing gratitude, you will be able to reduce your susceptibility to burnout.
  4. Get some support.  Friends and family members can be a source of comfort.  Your organization may have assistance programs as well.  Further, coaching services are available to help you devise a go-forward strategy with your career.
  5. Assess yourself – skills, interests, and passions.   Spend quality time asking yourself questions about your strengths and weaknesses.  Work with a friend or coach to help you gain a realistic and healthy perspective of how you might better leverage your talents to remain energetic, hopeful, and enthusiastic about your future.
  6. Exercise.   By taking the time, regularly, to do something as simple as walking, you would be surprised how much kinder the world appears after you have walked a mile or two or spent time at the gym.

I hope this post was helpful.  Having lived through burnout and experienced the career crash, I understand well where some of you may be right now.

Please contact me here if you need someone to speak with about your current situation.  I offer you a no charge complimentary call where you can blow off some steam and regain hope and excitement about your career.



About Matt

Certified Coach - Helping professionals achieve their goals
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