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5 Signs Your Employees are Nearing Burnout

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The divorce rate in America hovers around 50 percent, Midlife Divorce Recovery reports. About 1.5 million people file for bankruptcy every year. And nearly one million miscarriages occur in the U.S. each year.

That’s a lot of personal problems.

Add to that average stress levels from work, and keeping employees motivated to provide consistent results becomes quite the challenge. Fortunately, by fixing processes and hiring more of the right people, you can control at least part of what makes the difference between level-headed employees and overwhelmed, unproductive ones.

Sadly, when projects pile up and stress skyrockets, the last thing on your mind is hiring more people or cleaning up processes. Perhaps, though, that should be the first thing on your mind — actually it definitely should be once the storm passes.

But you can’t increase employee motivation and quality control if you don’t first notice the telltale signs of overworked and inefficient employees. So, here are five.

1. They don’t laugh while at work.

Unhappy employees are less productive than their joyful counterparts. Specifically, one study estimates that happy employees are about 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees. That’s not surprising when you think about it. When people have less internal concerns, they produce a better quality more consistently.

Of course, running a profitable business and keeping everyone happy at the same time isn’t always easy. Still, you shouldn’t ignore the general vibe around the workplace. Do people seem like they’re enjoying their time or dreading it? Are employees so busy that they have no time to shoot the breeze with their coworkers?

Although it might seem like laughing employees kills productivity and profitability, it might actually — as the study above suggests — encourage a higher efficiency and quality when employees do sit down to work.

2. Miscommunications runs rampant.

Forty-four percent of workers said a serious business mistake or shortcoming has been the result of a miscommunication at some point in their professional experience. And 18 percent said that miscommunication lost a sale — a third of those sales valued above $100,000.

For efficiency and profitability’s sake, miscommunication is one thing you don’t want running rampant around the workplace. Sadly, when employees are overworked and overstressed, miscommunications are inevitable — and they’re often a sign that you need to hire more people, clean up processes or redistribute existing projects from certain employees.

3. They’re making rookie mistakes.

The moment your most trusted employees start making rookie mistakes is the same moment you need to examine the way you’re running your business. If you trust these employees and they’ve never let you down before, it’s probably not their fault. It’s probably the fault of unclear processes or fast growth without adequate leadership.

The reality is, most people operate best when running at about 80 percent. Even a great employee might burn out and start making silly mistakes when running at 90 or 100 percent for too long. Slow down and bring back your superstars before they burn out for good.

4. Absenteeism is on the rise.

If people aren’t showing up to work, there’s a problem. Of course, hiring slackers who don’t show up to team meetings on time, take a suspicious amount of sick days or outright miss work is often an unfortunate part of business.

To some degree, that absenteeism is impossible to completely avoid. You take chances on people and some of those people work out. Others don’t. Having said that, if new hires with high spirits and old hires with long commitments try to miss work as often as possible, then there’s a good chance you’re burning out your employees. You should reevaluate your business processes before those workers leave for good.

5. They’ve lost passion for their work.

When you hired your employees, more than likely, part of why you chose them was because they showed passion for their work. If that passion starts to fade, it might be a sign that those same employees don’t have the time or energy to pursue their greatest interests.

And that lack of employee passion is bad for business. In fact, one out of fiveemployees want to leave their job because they simply are no longer passionate about their work. Plus, when employees lack passion for their daily work, quality of that work naturally decreases. So too does their commitment to your business.

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A dissemination event in Poland

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Tools to prevent burnout and improve mental resilience

22 May 2019 Poznań, Młyńska 12 Conference Center,

17.30 – 18.30 Workshop 1 – Curving reality under stress – Are we determined by a personal script or free in the choice?

17.30 – 18.30 Workshop 2 – Involvement according to Transactional Analysis – How to raise internal power to be in a group / relationship?

19.00 – 20.30 Project presentation and lecture on How NASA conquered the cosmos by managing stress.

21.00 Networking

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6 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Make Their Lives Easier and Avoid Burnout

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Entrepreneurial life is exhausting. There isn’t much time to step back and catch your breath. But working around the clock and failing to take care of yourself is not good for your mind or body. In fact, this is exactly how entrepreneurs start to burnout.

Burnout occurs as a result of prolonged stress, and it often causes fatigue, detachment, frustration and feelings of hopelessness. The symptoms often creep up slowly on entrepreneurs, so they may not even realize they are suffering from burnout until it has become more serious and harder to manage. Fortunately, there are steps that entrepreneurs can take to avoid burnout altogether.

1. Pretend you are an employee instead of an entrepreneur.

It’s hard for entrepreneurs to step away from their work, so they end up burning the midnight oil night after night. Snap out of this harmful habit by pretending to be an employee instead of an entrepreneur. Get dressed for work every morning — even if you are working from home — and work the same set hours everyday. This exercise can help entrepreneurs pull themselves away from their work so they can find a work-life balance and avoid burning out.

2. Identify the underlying cause.

Burnout always happens for a reason. Sometimes, it’s simply a result of working long hours. However, entrepreneurs can also start to burn out when they feel like they are losing control over their business. For example, an entrepreneur can experience symptoms of burnout if a new product launch does not go as planned. Burnout can also occur when an entrepreneur is forced to perform repetitive, tedious tasks everyday.

Because there are so many causes, it’s important for entrepreneurs to identify the underlying cause if they start to exhibit symptoms of burnout. Figuring out what is causing the symptoms of burnout can help entrepreneurs make changes to their business or routine in order to avoid completely burning out.

For example, entrepreneurs who are burned out from doing repetitive work should incorporate more challenging tasks into their daily routine. Breaking up the boring tasks with something that is out of their comfort zone can remind them why they love their work. Sometimes, this reminder is enough to avert burnout.

3. Look to other entrepreneurs for support.

Lack of emotional support can accelerate the onset of burnout. Friends and family may not understand exactly what entrepreneurs are going through, which is why it’s best to turn to other entrepreneurs in the community for support. Research networking groups that are designed to bring local entrepreneurs together. Then, open up to these entrepreneurs about challenges or concerns related to your business. No one understands the emotional rollercoaster of starting and growing a business better than other entrepreneurs, so this network can offer the emotional support entrepreneurs need to avoid burnout.

4. Stay away from negative people.

Studies have shown that pessimistic people are more likely to experience burnout because they are never satisfied with their work or performance. For this reason, it is best for entrepreneurs to steer clear of people who are constantly negative. Why? Negativity is often contagious, which means entrepreneurs who spend time around negative people will start to become more negative themselves. Entrepreneurs should surround themselves with positive people so they can reduce their risk of burning out.

5. Pat yourself on the back.

Many entrepreneurs start to burn out because they feel they are not recognized for their hard work. Feeling unappreciated can be disheartening and cause many entrepreneurs to consider throwing in the towel. No entrepreneur should let themselves get to this point. Entrepreneurs should make an effort to pat themselves on the back when they meet their goals. There’s no harm in celebrating your own accomplishments — especially if doing so can prevent burnout.

6. Hire, hire, hire!

One of the most common causes of burnout is taking on more than you can chew or repeatedly piling on repetitive tasks. Hiring an assistant, an extra employee, an accountant or whomever is needed to help offload some tasks will make an immense difference in stopping burnout in its tracks.

Burning out should not be a part of the entrepreneurial life. By following these tips, entrepreneurs can protect their minds and bodies from the harmful effects of burnout.

If you’ve already started to experience intense burnout symptoms, it’s not too late to take action. No matter what is on your schedule, it’s important to take time off and give your body plenty of time to overcome burnout. Remember, continuing to push through the physical and mental discomfort will only make it worse.

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Burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder: Dr. Geri Puleo at TEDxSetonHillUniversity

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Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President/CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., a boutique B2B consulting firm helping clients who are planning, implementing, or struggling with change. The creator of the Burnout During Organizational Change (B-DOC) Model, she has over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience in the B2B and B2C markets. The founding president of Tri-State Society of Human Resource Management (a Superior Merit winner), she is currently launching a new SHRM chapter in the Airport area. The former author of 2 columns for E-Magnify and The Employment Paper (a subsidiary of The Pittsburgh Business Times), her blog, http://a-new-way-, focuses on achieving professional success by reducing burnout and maintaining work-life balance during organizational change. A frequent and popular keynote speaker and trainer at national, regional and local conferences, Dr. Puleo has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in business, human resources, organizational development, leadership/ management, and strategy at Penn State University, Seton Hill University, Robert Morris University, Strayer University and CCAC.

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How to Prevent Burnout and Create Space for What Matters Most

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“We humans need connection: to self, others, to our creativity. Playfulness creates opportunities to connect. Connection reduces stress and makes us healthier. “ Lanie Smith, a registered Art Therapist, gave us in this article 5 tips on how she found the balance in her life.

When I was in college, I discovered art to be a valuable coping skill that helped me balance the stress of family dynamics, multiple jobs, and full time school. Often, I’d find myself rolling into work as a makeup artist or into the restaurants where I’d waitress and bartend using the spit technique to wipe off paint smudges from my elbow or forehead. Sometimes, I’d find my hair matted together where paint had dried the strands together like rubber cement. I would laugh it off and chalk it up to being artsy.

Fast forward to grad school: I might catch myself in a similar situation, but it became more important to look ‘professional’ and adhere to the dress code as I entered internships and practicums. I took my role as a therapist seriously and over time lost sight of some important wisdom I’d read just before I decided to leave the South for New York City:

Serious art(work) is born of serious play. -julia cameron

I was dedicated to my own art and I was passionate about bringing clients “real” art experiences rather than the recreational crafts that were often passed off as Art Therapy. This eventually led to packing a portable studio while traveling up to 200 miles a day between homes and schools and different programs in 100+ degree weather that baked clay and melted pastels.   I could be rather stubborn, but I soon learned to accept the limitations of being an Art Therapist in the Arizona desert. I also recognized its many gifts. Previous work in sterile hospital settings, a third world country, and an inner-city high school had reinforced my own ingenuity and shown me how to use just about any environment as a source of inspiration.

As the demands and realities of my career set in, I slowly found myself less and less able to keep up with my own creative endeavors. The long sessions of intuitive painting I loved were given up in favor of intakes, assessments, caseloads, documentation, and CPS reports. Occasional weekends were devoted to artmaking, but I began to lose my identity as artist while adopting the role of Art Therapist.   I soon felt more and more disconnected from my creativity and began to lose motivation, energy, and health as I lost myself in the service of others.

Let the Clinification Syndrome begin.

There’s actually a syndrome specific to Art Therapists that emerges when we feel like we don’t completely fit into either the art world or the traditional therapy world. Occasional workshops and the creative activities with my clients weren’t enough to feed my artist identity and keep me in touch with the raw pleasure of tactile, sensory experimentation that I associated with being a painter.

As the great John Belushi once said, “I’m a fucking artist. I’m sensitive as shit…I wish I could be a plumber but I can’t because I’m a fucking artist!”

Art Therapists are artists trained to use their gifts and interests in art to support others in a clinical setting. A desire for security can lead us to take positions that often do not consider the needs of an artist: the time, space, and materials to actually do the work that sets us apart from other behavioral health professionals. Artists need white space. I’d argue we all do.

Just like a work of art, the unmarked area or blank canvas is what allows the image to form.   This open space is just as important to a composition as the actual objects, lines, or shapes. Such breathing room is equally important in life as it is art…for artists and non-artists alike. It gives us room for spontaneity, curiosity, and exploration. These are the ingredients of play.

Play leads to joy which allows for growth and healing.

Sadly, we lose our ability to play, when we don’t feel safe. Many adults sacrifice play in the pursuit of security. Curious exploration is deemed unproductive. Lack of trust in the creative process fuels habitual obsession with getting results and controlling outcomes. When we’re in this mode, each day can become an exhausting chase rather than a practice of faithfully allowing creative energy to flow and life to unfold.

The value of adult play is greatly underestimated in our industrialized culture that values mass production, systemized processes, and machine-like output, but, ultimately, we are humans. We humans need connection: to self, others, to our creativity. Playfulness creates opportunities to connect. Connection reduces stress and makes us healthier. In turn, healthy humans produce higher quality work marked by creative solutions that only appeared in that playful white space.

I knew all this. I knew the value of play and how it’s often jeopardized when we put security above all else, but still… I spent several years sacrificing my creativity and playfulness in favor of professional goals and a steady paycheck. These days, I gratefully find myself in a more balanced place where I can prioritize white space and have learned to enjoy the process rather than obsess over outcome.

So how did I find my way back to balance and back to play? How can you find your own way there? These steps helped me to restore my own relationship with my creative self. I believe they can help you too. 

  1. Establish “white space” in your heart, work, and calendar. Let go of some obligatory tasks that no longer feel good. To do this, you can make a list to identify what you think you “have” to do and what you want to do. Even if this only opens up an hour a week, start there and use this hour to explore what would feel good.
  2. Of the things you believe you “have” to do…write down why you think you “must”. Words like must, need, ought, should, and have to insinuate life or death consequences. What will happen if you stopped? Establish intentionality by identifying why you choose to do these things rather than suffer the consequences of not doing them. For example, I choose to pay my taxes because I am grateful for the freedom to live and sleep in my own home rather than share a jail cell at the AZ State Prison!   This alone can shift obligations into choices. Spend as much or as little on this step as you feel called to and then go enjoy something that feels more exploratory and playful.
  3. If you feel afraid or guilty about taking a break and creating white space in your life, consciously ground yourself in a sense of safety and trust. Remember a time when you feared things would not turn out well but they actually did. Close your eyes and visualize this scenario while noticing how you feel in your body. Stay with this sensation for as long as you like.
  4. Now…time to play! Use the energy of this feeling and pleasant memory to do something you’d enjoy most. This could be anything…rollerskating, writing, painting, a nature walk or hike, biking, birdwatching, etc. I mention a lot of outdoor activities because that’s what I love, but this is your playtime so choose what you would enjoy. There was a time when my energy was low and restful activities like movies and books were most enjoyable. Follow what your heart is craving.
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Mental health at the workplace – World Mental Health Day 2017

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World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October each year. It is a day for global mental health awareness-raising and advocacy. This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on mental health at the workplace – a vital concern considering that the majority of people with mental conditions are of working age and that the productivity losses due to common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety disorders, are so substantial. A recent WHO-led study estimated that these common mental disorders account for more than 50 million lost years of work and cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion a year in lost productivity. In the WHO European Region alone, the estimated cost exceeds US$ 140 billion per year. A further notable finding is that, compared to other health conditions, depression and anxiety disorders impose a 30% higher toll on the employer and economy (due to longer average periods off work).

Well-being at the workplace influences health and productivity, and a negative work environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, alcohol consumption and substance abuse. The risk of developing work-related depression, stress and burnout can be addressed by tackling some of the risks to mental health at the workplace, such as:

  • inadequate health and safety policies
  • poor communication and management practices
  • limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work
  • low levels of support for employees
  • inflexible working hours
  • unclear tasks or organizational objectives.

Interventions and good practices that protect and promote mental health in the workplace include informing staff that help is available, involving employees in decision-making and supporting a good work-life balance.

Mental health at work relates to both the effects of the workplace on people’s mental health and the impact of mental health problems on the workplace. Read more about this and about creating a healthy workplace in the information sheet listed below.

Source: World Health Organization
Pic: Metro

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14 science-backed reasons to disconnect over the weekend

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Step away from your work emails! If you’re guilty of putting a few extra hours in at work, whether in the office or on your sofa with your smartphone, this infographic explains exactly why you may be doing more harm than good.

Entrepreneurs are many things: dreamers, creators, opportunity hunters and hard workers. But most notoriously, business owners have a bad habit of working too much. 

If you feel pressured to work on your days off, either to keep up your growth momentum, or to take the slack off your overstretched employees, the terrible irony is that you might actually end up doing more harm than good. A Whitehall study suggests that working long hours can double the odds of a major depressive episode — not much use for your wellbeing, your family, or your business.

Stress-related absenteeism and reduced productivity cost businesses £29 billion a year, according to a PWC study, which is something you may want to think about going into work in for a couple of hours on Saturday morning.

Instead, consider making the most of your break to disconnect from work, recharge your batteries, and find inspiration so you return to work, creative guns blazing.

This infographic from NetCredit explains the science behind taking the weekend off, and how to do it right to get the most out of your break.

Praseeda Nair

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Sono questi i lavoratori più a rischio burnout

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Alle prese tra piatti e fornelli quello del cuoco è il mestiere più stressante che esista. Gli chef di cucina, infatti, sperimentano una elevatissima pressione a causa della velocità con cui devono lavorare quotidianamente. La curiosità è emersa da uno studio condotto in Olanda che ha fatto una classifica delle professioni più dure. A seguire si piazzano medici, avvocati e insegnanti che si lamentano dell’eccessivo carico di lavoro che li porta vicini al rischio di sperimentare la sindrome da burnout. All’opposto, e con un pizzico di sorpresa, la ricerca rivela che le guardie giurate presentano il più basso livello di stress sul posto di lavoro, seguiti da tassisti, giardinieri e cassieri dei supermercati.

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Employee Burnout Is a Problem with the Company, Not the Person

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Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge. That’s a mistake.

The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and far too little time for creative work. Once executives confront the problem at an organizational level, they can use organizational measures to address it.

In our book Time, Talent and Energy, we note that when employees aren’t as productive as they could be, it’s usually the organization, not its employees, that is to blame. The same is true for employee burnout. When we looked inside companies with high burnout rates, we saw three common culprits: excessive collaboration, weak time management disciplines, and a tendency to overload the most capable with too much work. These forces not only rob employees of time to concentrate on completing complex tasks or for idea generation, they also crunch the downtime that is necessary for restoration. Here’s how leaders can address them.

Excessive collaboration

Excessive collaboration is a common ailment in organizations with too many decision makers and too many decision-making nodes. It manifests itself in endless rounds of meetings and conference calls to ensure that every stakeholder is heard and aligned. Many corporate cultures require collaboration far beyond what is needed to get the job done. Together, these structural and cultural factors lead to fragmented calendars and even fragmented hours during the day. Our research found that senior executives now receive 200 or more emails per day. The average frontline supervisor devotes about eight hours each week (a full business day) to sending, reading and answering e-communications—many of which shouldn’t have been sent to or answered by those managers.

Burnout is also driven by the always-on digital workplace, too many priorities, and the expectation that employees can use their digital tools to multitask and power through their workloads. Multitasking turns out to be exhausting and counterproductive as we switch back and forth between tasks. The costs of context switching are well documented: switching to a new task while still in the middle of another increases the time it takes you to finish both tasks by 25%. A Microsoft study found that it takes people an average of 15 minutes to return to an important project after an e-mail interruption.

Companies can begin to address the collaboration overload problem by adjusting organizational structures and routines. One easy step is to look at the number of nodes in the organization. These are intersections in the organizational matrix where a decision maker sits. A proliferation of nodes is a sign of unnecessary organizational complexity, and nodes act as organizational speedbumps, slowing down the action and stealing organizational time and energy.

Companies can also systematically examine how people go about their work. You can, for example, zero-base meeting calendars to determine which meetings are really necessary, how frequently they should be scheduled, how long they last and who really needs to attend. You can also look at how you staff teams. Instead of isolating star players by distributing them across teams, companies can often get better results by putting the high-energy, high-achieving players together on the same squad and having them tackle the highest priority work.

In addition to formal organizational changes, leaders can reduce burnout and raise enterprise productivity through softer interventions. For example, by adopting agile principles, leaders can motivate and energize teams, and give individual team members a way to own the results. With Agile approaches, teams focus on fewer, more critical activities. Initiative backlogs are used to set priorities, and the team reprioritizes the list whenever they add new tasks. This provides a mechanism for sustained focus on the most important priorities and constant pruning of less important ones. Projects are time-boxed and focused so that there is more doing and less energy-draining process.

Executives can also work on culture and coaching. Leaders can help establish new cultural norms around time and make clear that everyone’s time is a precious resource.

Weak time-management disciplines

In most large organizations today, the demand for collaboration has significantly outpaced the development of tools, disciplines and organizational norms to manage it. Most often, employees are left on their own to figure out how to manage their time in ways that will reduce stress and burnout. They have limited ability to fight a corporate culture in which overwork is the norm and even celebrated. And few employees have the power—or temerity—to call off unnecessary meetings.

But company leaders can do something. The first step is to get a handle on the problem. While executives like to measure the benefits of collaboration, few have measured the costs. But there are useful tools to measure how employee time is spent and how that affects burnout and organizational productivity. Ryan Fuller, the cofounder of a workplace analytics start-up acquired by Microsoft, notes that executives often simply do not knowhow much time employees spend on activities that contribute to enterprise productivity, nor do they know how much time is lost or spent on less productive activities. His company’s product is now marketed as Microsoft Workplace Analytics and provides one way to estimate how employee time is spent.

Using data from such tools, you can map the places in your organizations where too much time is spent in meetings, emails, or online collaboration. With this information you can target changes in specific groups and functions to reduce the organizational drag that drains productivity and leads to burnout. Our data suggest that most executives have an opportunity to liberate at least 20% of their employees’ time by bringing greater discipline to time management. Equally important, doing so gives employees back control over their calendars. We find that one of the greatest sources of organizational energy is giving employees a sense of autonomy. It pays to give people back control of their days. It also helps to avoid micromanaging, which is another contributor to stress.

Overloading of the most capable

Employee workloads have increased in many organizations in which hiring has not matched growth; companies overestimate how much can be accomplished with digital productivity tools and rarely check to see if their assumptions are correct. The overload problem is compounded for companies because the best people are the ones whose knowledge is most in demand and who are often the biggest victims of collaboration overload. In one company we studied, the average manager was losing one day a week to email and other electronic communications and two days a week to meetings. The highly talented managers will lose even more time to collaboration as their overwork earns them more responsibility and an even larger workload.

The same workplace analytic tools that can measure how much employee time is lost to unproductive activities can also measure the excess demands on the time of the best managers, enabling their bosses to redesign workflows or take other steps to avoid overload and burnout.

Everyone knows the human toll of burnout. Unchecked organizational norms insidiously create the conditions for burnout—but leaders can change them to make burnout less likely. Giving people back the time to do work that drives the company’s success will pay huge dividends by raising productivity, increasing productive output and reducing burnout. Everybody wins.


Eric Garton is a partner in Bain & Company’s Chicago office and leader of the firm’s Global Organization practice. He is coauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (HBR Press, March 2017).

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