How To Fights and Prevent Burnout

How To Fights and Prevent Burnout

CSS Dev Conf San Antonio, 2016

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Alicia Sedlock

October 17, 2016
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  1. How To Fight and Prevent Burnout Alicia Sedlock | @aliciability

    CSS Dev Conf 2016
  2. I’m Alicia. • Boston, MA • Front-end developer/gamer • Sometimes

    I make games • Have a hedgehog named Mabel • I’m really shy • #FightBurnout
  3. – Wikipedia “Burnout is a type of psychological stress. Occupational

    burnout or job burnout is characterized by exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, and also may have the dimension of frustration or cynicism, and as a result reduced efficacy within the workplace.” So waht does our best friend Wikipedia say about burnout?
  4. But definitions are boring. Let me tell you my story.

    - learn new tech - be in an alpha male project - get no support - get no feedback but get responsibilities pulled - rewrite everything every night - I want to grow technically, but was also facing an uphill battle with no professional or emotional support - Eventually stopped caring. Which turned into questioning myself. Which turned into a breakdown.
  5. Burnout is different for everyone. BIG CAVEAT: In today’s discussion,

    I don’t want to make a blanket case for how burnout occurs. But it occurs with so many people. I have some theories why, and I have some theories on what may help everyone.
  6. Burnout vs. Technical Growth From what I’ve personally experienced, and

    from talking about the experience of others, burnout and technical growth are often at odds. Many of us in the development community feel oncomings of burnout while trying to grow, and bouts of guilt when we try to care ofr ourselves and aren’t constantly learning. It’s a battle of expectation versus reality.
  7. Expectations of technical growth • Personal projects, side things, coding

    all the time • Assumes the person has low number of outside priorities • Assume people will speak up when they are starting to wear thin
  8. Realities of technical growth • There's not infinite time -

    we've got lives • It's unpaid labor • We want technical experts who are young, because tech ageism unpaid labor - (employer asks you to vet a framework but wont give you on the clock time)
  9. Why are we seeing a public increase in burnout stories?

  10. Hypothesis A The past few years have seen pushes to

    have more representation in technical teams. Unrepresented groups have to work twice as hard as their majority peers to be see as successful. So in order to "keep up", they are already pushing too hard. Study on gender in the workplace found that in order to get past personal or organizational barriers in the workplace, many women agreed with the following statement: “I had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues to prove that I belonged at the company alongside them.” - University of Ottawa study: http://www.cips.ca/?q=system/files/CATA-WIT.pdf
  11. Hypothesis B We expect developers to know everything about everything.

  12. None
  13. Hypothesis C Ageism in tech puts pressure on both junior

    and senior developers in the industry. Ageism = cultural fit - people want “young hip” devs We also want experts. Many believe in the 10k rule (expert after 10k hours of something) 10k rule + ageism = we want young people to have done that 10k hour, rather than older folks who hit 10k over a reasonable amount of time.
  14. Hypothesis D Information overload makes us thing we’re behind. See

    tweets and blogs about all aspects, expect everyone knows about all aspects. Not the reality.
  15. Stages of burnout Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have

    theorized that the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially.[7] Published a paper in 2006 about these
  16. Stages of burnout • The compulsion to prove one’s self

    Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. The desire to prove oneself in the workplace turns into compulsion.[7]
  17. Stages of burnout • Working harder Because they have to

    prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organization that does not suit them, people establish high personal expectations. In order to meet these expectations, they tend to focus solely on work while they take on more work than they otherwise would. It may happen that they become obsessed with doing everything themselves to show that they are irreplaceable.[7]
  18. Stages of burnout • Neglecting their own needs Since they

    have to devote everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating and sleeping start to be seen as unnecessary or unimportant, as they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.[7]
  19. Stages of burnout • Displacement of conflicts They become aware

    that what they are doing is not right, but they are unable to see the source of the problem. This may lead to a crisis in themselves and become threatening. The first physical symptoms appear.[7]
  20. Stages of burnout • Revision of values While falling into

    a state of denial of basic physical needs, perceptions and value systems change. Work consumes all energy, leaving none for friends and hobbies. The job is the new value system and people start to become emotionally blunt.[7]
  21. Stages of burnout • Denial of emerging problems People may

    become intolerant and dislike being social. They may be seen as aggressive and sarcastic. Problems may be blamed on time pressure and all the work that they have to do.[7]
  22. Stages of burnout • Withdrawal Minimal social contact turns into

    isolation. Alcohol or drugs may be used as a release from obsessive working "by the book". These people often have feelings of being without hope or direction.[7]
  23. Stages of burnout • Obvious behavioral changes Coworkers, family, friends

    and others in their immediate social circles cannot overlook the behavioral changes in these people.[7]
  24. Stages of burnout • Depersonalization It is possible that they

    no longer see themselves or others as valuable. Their view of life narrows to only seeing the moment and life turns to a series of mechanical functions.[7]
  25. Stages of burnout • Inner emptiness They feel empty inside

    and may exaggerate activities such as overeating or sex to overcome these feelings.
  26. Stages of burnout • Depression Burnout may include depression. In

    that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believes that life has no meaning.[7]
  27. Stages of burnout • Burnout syndrome They collapse physically and

    emotionally and need immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, suicidal ideation may occur, with it being viewed as an escape from their situation.[7]
  28. Burnout vs. brownout Brownout: It refers to staff who are

    disengaged and demotivated in their job role. No physical emotional collapse like burnout, but may be a signal that burnout is on the way. Currently industry, I think, uses burnout to mean brownout. Now let’s revisit my burnout story. What do we notice between my story and the stages?
  29. • In the beginning, I felt I had to prove

    myself. • I started working “hard”. • I thought I was the problem. I doubted my capabilities. • I no longer felt valuable to the project. • Nervous breakdown.
  30. How is this affecting the industry? So what has this

    being to our industry, and our culture in web and tech?
  31. - Julie Pagano, http://juliepagano.com/blog/ 2015/02/07/diversity-for-sale/ “The pipeline is leaky and

    full of acid. The pipeline leads to a sewage treatment plant. The pipeline ends in a meat grinder.” The “pipeline” and the effort to get underrepresented groups is still really, really, unhealthy. And if we’re bringing in great minds who have worked so hard to get a chance, only to force them into a place where they know they’ll face burnout and the emotional and physical repercussions of it, then are we going to push these groups away again?
  32. We treat burnout as a badge Many in the industry

    still treat burnout like a badge of honor, and battle scar they’ve earned, proof that they’re working hard and are successful. Burnout has become a casual part of technology careers. Working late and sacrificing personal lives ends up being rewarded as “dedication”, “being a go-getter”, “reliable to get things done”. Which gets people promoted. Which reinforced the view that burnout means you’ve made it.
  33. Here is my hedgehog’s impression of burnout. How’s everyone doing?

    This is heavy stuff and thought a cute thing may help some folks. Marvel at the cute.
  34. So…what do we do about it? There are two sides.

    Individual and organizational. We also focus on the individual. This is bullshit.
  35. Burnout is about the organization as much as the individual

    If I burnout, I’m only part of the equation. The people and the situations that put me in the situation are equally involved in this discussion. So if you’re a manager, or a team lead, and your team is burning out, think about how you contributed to the situation. And what you could have done better.
  36. As Individuals There are things we can do as individuals.

  37. Say no

  38. Check in on yourself Not just how you feel, but

    why? Mindfulness - Calm Don’t hide the feelings, but acknowledge them & why they’re there
  39. Learn in moderation You don’t have to learn everything at

    once, or be the first to learn it Wait until others have vetted the latest shiny thing, use it when its got a good community and is more stable and proven to be effective.
  40. Learn to focus on extensible knowledge (framework vs core tech)

    Rachel mentioned in keynote - focus on HTML, CSS< JS fundamentals, accessibility fundamentals, and they will take you much farther than learning one specific framework that will be out of style in three years.
  41. What do people want to know you for? Are you

    learning things that serve that vision? Best piece of advice I’ve heard
  42. Passive learning Twitter! use it to curate. Dig into what

    sounds interesting. Just because you see it on Twitter doesn’t mean you HAVE to learn it! But you know who to follow, who are the experts, so when you NEED to know, you know where to go.
  43. As Leaders Tech leads, managers, directors - this is all

    for you Christina Maslach and her colleague Michael Leiter postulated that burnout occurs when there is a disconnection between the organization and the individual with regard to what they called the six areas of work life: workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values.
  44. Take no as an answer Believe people! Their stories! They

    aren’t being lazy.
  45. Don’t assume everyone will speak up If you put 100%

    of the responsibility of speaking up on burnout on the individual, you are letting them burnout. People don’t want to show weakness. Why speak up if no one else is? Ask. Ask how they feel. Does it line up with the stages of burnout we saw? If so, start trying to fix it.
  46. Make sure your employees are set up for success Insane

    demands? Unrealistic deadlines? Ridiculous requests?
  47. One-on-one meetings Easiest way to get personal insight into one

    person’s life, both inside and outside of work. This is likely where you’ll start seeing them mention problems, or disinterest, or hints at any of those 12 stages of burnout.
  48. Want your team to learn? Give them time to learn

    Investment time, once in a while, scheduled
  49. Understand boundaries Don't penalize for not being free at night.

  50. We all have intellectual FOMO. Let’s be honest about it

    admit when you don’t know things but don’t see it as a fault. Leverage team knowledge. Not everything should ride on you. define fomo As an industry, we’re always afraid on missing out on the next big thing. The next breakthrough. The latest and greatest. That we’ll be obsolete without knowing everything that’s happening. But we ALL have that. And we all are experts as something!
  51. If it’s not your bottom line, don’t do it Cate

    Huston says, are there things you could just not be doing? Think about what people want to know you for. Do you really have to do anything that doesn’t help you get there? I don’t want to be a full stack developer. I am a front-end developer. I say no to things that don’t serve my personal values of being an awesome front-end developer. Learning SQL queries doesn’t serve my desire to be an expert and HTML and CSS.
  52. I also found hedgehog pictures help me from burning out.

    I hope you like them too.
  53. Thanks @aliciability Don’t forget to vote! (504) 229-6828 #FightBurnout Vote

    + a comment (4 needs more hedgehogs)