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When your High-performers Turn ‘Sour’

Things are HAPPENING in your organization. You’re making moves, you’re getting clients, and as a leader you’re even spending time on biz dev. Eff YES!

At the same time one of your best employees is a little ‘off.’ Previously this person was your greatest ally, your most dependable, your most valuable and committed. Right now they are having to stay later than usual to get work done. They frequently speak about other team members not puling their weight, and this employee has to pick up their slack. Right now they are easily exasperated All. The. Time. When you onboard a new client, rather than excitement they give you a big sigh and roll their head at all the work ahead of them.

Wait a minute! What the [expletive] is happening here? This was your right hand until recently.

Whelp. An Elephant has found it’s way into their office. And this Elephant’s name is “Torchy,” and he proceeded to lay down a big pile of Burn-Out.

So inconvenient. So untimely. So disappointing.

So fixable. This is an employee worth investing in. Let’s get rid of Torchy and the big piles of flaming sh*t he is leaving around.

The first thing, is to help this employee see that working harder is not necessarily a badge of honor. Having a strong work ethic, putting a good foot forward, remaining accountable, maintaining commitment – sure those are super important. But when working harder compromises their ability to integrate their work and outside-life together, or when working harder does not allow them to see the big picture anymore, or when working harder becomes a direct reflection of their overall life success… this is when we’ve succumbed to burn-out.

Imagine with me. Picture your employee in your head. Then see someone approaching this employee to share some information. How would the words “Now what?” sound from their mouth?

Is it “Now what” with an eye roll, and a heavy sigh of exasperation? Maybe their palms slap the desk.

Is it “Now what” with a an air of forward momentum and critical thinking? Perhaps even curiosity.

If I’ve painted a picture so far that leads you to think one of your employees is burned-out then I strongly recommend you address it now and collaborate with them to relieve it. When someone is burned-out, they feel stuck. And consider that they may be so stuck in the minute to minute navigation of what’s in front of them, that they may not even recognize the burn-out. All they see is a growing list of problems on their plate.

Did you know that it takes 24 hours for our bodies to process stress hormones? Well an average of 24 hours for females and an average of 9 hours for males. If you’re a female then that doesn’t feel fair, but the takeaway is that if you go to bed stressed, you will wake up thusly and have another day to repeat the cycle.

To make their workload feel more manageable and therefore reduce the stress around it, work with your employee to use the Sphere of Influence Exercise.


This is where you take the tasks or problems in front of you and determine how much direct control, influence, or no control you have. It looks like this:



What task, part of their role, or problem fits into which area of the circles?




You can simply draw this on a paper or whiteboard and help your employee troubleshoot. They need a little support to think straight right now. This will help them be more present, see a bigger picture, quell urgency and reactivity, and prioritize potent actions.

  • If something it not in their sphere of influence or control, is it in someone else’s within the company?
  • If they only have influence, does someone else have more control and can help this employee out?
  • If something is outside their spheres (outside of both control or influence) do they need to own it at all? Can they reduce their stress with this realization or even let go if it entirely?

Mind you this exercise does not remove their burn-out. That elephant snuck it’s way in over time and grew once it got there. So it will take some time to reduce the size of Torchy so he can fit through the way he came in. This will however reduce their stress which is a great first step in shrinking Torchy.

If you have ever been burned out, what was one tool that helped you to relieve it?


If you want more strategies on this topic, I cover the common dysfunctions of a growing organization and how leaders can shape high-performing teams accessed here.

Or you can scheduled an intro call here (free of selling, full of in-depth advice).


Free Executive Summary – The Leadership Maximizer Audit

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I’ve created a free report called The Leadership Maximizer Audit. It’s my most popular free resource and in it I help you to optimize areas of strength and recognize opportunities for development in leadership. This link will take you to the Mini version, and after you complete this form, I will provided you with an executive summary outlining actions you can take to shape high-performing teams, and move your company forward with more ease.

Follow the link to the mini Leadership Maximizer Audit and I’ll help you uncover your next steps in getting rid of the elephants in your boardroom.


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