How to protect office stars from a brownout

Lost your “mojo” at work? You could be experiencing a “brownout”.

How detect office stars from a work brownout

What is a “brownout”? The term is used in the field of energy and electricity supply when the supply or voltage is intentionally, or sometimes unintentionally, dropped in an emergency. It’s done to conserve energy for all but emergency use. In the work environment, it’s a term used to describe an executive employee’s lack of energy and enthusiasm for their work causing a dip in productivity, like the situation caused by its electrical namesake.

A work brownout usually creeps up on a person, it’s not sudden like a stressed-laden breakdown due to an overload at work.

How protect office stars from a work brownout

An executive brownout differs from burnout in one key way – a brownout is hard to detect and is not characterized by a major crisis, says Michael Kibler, founder and CEO of holistic coaching and development firm Corporate Balance Concepts writing in the Harvard Business Review.

Tell-tale signs you may be heading for a brownout include not wanting to go the extra mile to produce good results; not preparing for a presentation in the way you used to; zoning out during important meetings; physical wear and tear; lack of social life and family commitments; an “atrophy” of personal interests; and a general disengagement from the day-today needs of the business.

How protect office stars from a brownout


How to overcome the brownout

In ‘Prevent Your Star Performers from Losing Passion for Their Work’, Kibler suggests engaging professionals in “active partnering” which encourages bosses to engage with their managers on a personal level so that they can “build true partnerships with their most important people”. For example, writes Kibler, if a boss takes a keen interest in his manager’s goal to adopt a child, run a marathon, or visit a child overseas, as well as his career development that interest could benefit the boss, the manager and the organisation they both work for.

If you think you may be heading for a brownout, check out the ten signs in the Telegraph article ‘Are you heading for a burnout?


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