I’ve been in a funk. Yep. The spark is gone and I know why. First about that spark: it is what gives me superhuman HR strength. That spark is the jolt of adrenaline I need to rock things Dawn style. Anytime I start a new thing (job or project)… my spark ignites. I love it!
But the spark is gone and I know why—I’m overwhelmed. I HATE admitting that. LOATH admitting that. I would rather poke out my eyes with pencils than admit that. I would rather eat black licorice than admit that. I would rather have Sarah Palin and/or Nancy Pelosi for President than admit that (yeah… I took it there; but I’m still a fence straddler… sue me).
- “Really… you want 20 more prescreens? YOU betcha!”
- “Sure I’ll be happy to explain why with only 6-months experience you don’t qualify for a 90K salary or a 10K raise. Let’s set up a time to chat!”
- “One of my 2.5 person team goes on leave for 3 months tomorrow? Uh… great! I’ll be happy to do her job in addition to learning my role and plan corp strategic initiatives for 2011.”
- “Mom, sis, hubby (enter name here)… I’ve just started my new job but oh, you need me to come visit Aunt Sally, Our Priest, You (enter name here) this weekend in Hattiesburg, Mobile, Timbuktu (enter place here) over the next 3 weekends… I’ll be there!”
- “Healthcare reform… uhhh (mind goes blank)…”
With a new job, I hate to admit to anyone I am a bit overwhelmed. I mean check out this heavy quote from Nietzsche about the topic. But you know what has started to stop the pain…
Admitting it. To my team, my friends, my husband, my priest, my cat… It was like the dam broke. Admitting it was like the feeling I get when I put on my fun pants and watch a Nurse Jackie Marathon. With a pint of Chunky Monkey while getting a foot massage. Even the deity Oprah (or one of her minions) says admitting it is good.
Leaders don’t like to admit they are overwhelmed for many reasons, mainly for fear of looking incompetent. That has crossed my mind one or two times. But my real fear was not about incompetence… I know I am competent. My fear was that my team would not feel capable of coming to me for leadership in the most simplest of forms. That being overwhelmed in my head also overwhelmed my ability to be available.
So admit that at times you are overwhelmed. It’s OK to be 2nd best for a while. And if there is anything you can do to bridge the gap with your team… just be there.
Dawn Burke, VP of Talent Consulting at Kinetix and founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker, and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/recruiting/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, with past gigs including a foundational role as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at DawnHBurke.com and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.
Most importantly: She is addicted to TV, knows most of the lyrics to Hamilton and West Side Story, loves to cry at movies (check out Cinema Paradiso for a cry fest!), thinks wine, a wheel of Brie and Milk Duds make a well-balanced dinner, and sings in her car daily. Her husband and cat are the Yin to her Yang.