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This is a slightly different issue and the title really does say it all; there’s a real problem that exists in the community space with being overworked, underpaid, and general burnout.
Now, sometimes, it’s because the organizations we work for do not understand the challenges that a Community Manager faces every single day and the emotional and psychological cost associated with serving humans, at-scale.
Consequently, Community Leaders are been given mandates that are far too deep and wide to be successful and we pay the heavy cost for 100+ hour weeks, on repeat with very high business expectations (but zero underlying “engagement” metrics that make sense).
In just as many cases we’re burnt out because we love, love, love our community and we enjoy solving their problems and listening to their needs — it was what some of us, many of us were born to do!
But, we suffer the negative consequences of forgetting about self-care and our own state of mental health.
So, I just want to put it plainly: No community is worth the long-term effects and consequences of de-prioritizing your own health before others. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Never. Ever. Ever.
Why? Because if you’re unhealthy then your community is going to become unhealthy, eventually, inevitably, and no one wins at that point.
I have seen my friends who have given their literal lives to their online communities at great and significant (personal) cost, only for them to burnout in the worst sort of ways.
And, to be honest, some will never return to community leadership — the experiences were just too painful.
We have to continue to talk openly and frequently about community-centric burnout, especially because community is becoming an ever-increasing focus in business and the technology-enabled world.
We have to stop the coming epidemic before it gets out of control — I’m over workaholism and community and I hope you are too.
Workaholism Self-Assessment for Community Managers and Leaders
I’ve been taking an emotional intelligence course for startup founders and one of the recent exercises that we’ve been asked to take is one on our own mental health as it relates to workaholism.
I took the following assessment which I want to share with all of you:
Take a moment, today, to take this quick self-assessment — you don’t even have to print this out! Just read each question and make a mental “tick” and count the number of times you’d check the space.
If you have 5 or more, then, you might be in a bad spot that needs a bit of review, correction, and maybe even support from a friend or colleague.
Share this with your team as well and ask them to do a quick, self-assessment. Even the exercise of taking a moment to ask oneself these questions is a fantastic way to get context, perspective, and even clarity in and around the things that you’re struggling with.
Self-awareness (and growing in self-awareness) takes intentional practice and an increase in momentary “breaks” like these to “spot-check” your own emotional state can do wonders for your own psychology.
I hope you do it, for yourself, your teams, and your communities.
Love you all.
To infinity & community,
Quiz Questions in Text Format
This quiz is meant to begin a conversation with yourself and others about your relationship to work. Are you responding to your work or reacting? Do you feel at the effect of your work or are you consciously creating it? Are you working from trust or from fear?
Put a check in front of any statement that is often, mostly or always true.
- You don’t prioritize hobbies, leisure activities and or exercise
- You take less than your allocated vacation
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health
- You work longer than your colleagues
- You are always “on” and reachable to discuss work
- You get stressed when you are not at work
- You are more comfortable talking about work than other topics
- You don’t recognize achievements in yourself and your staff
- Your mind is at work even when you are not
- You come to work even when you are sick
- You sometimes hide your work from your family
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness or depression
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them
- You can’t “turn off”
- Your personal relationships are strained because your not around
- You often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your work
- You work through your lunch hour most of the time
- You miss important personal and family events because of work
- It is difficult for you to relax when you are on vacation
- You check your device regularly when you are not at work
If you checked 5 or more of these statements you may be a workaholic. A next step would be to ask yourself the willingness questions on the handout. Conscious Leadership is to see what may be in the way of shifting this pattern.