Keri Laine Glamorous

You Already Won

January 17, 20233 min read

I had a meeting with an executive today about one of his team members being burnt out and what we can do to help her, afraid he may lose her. 

He told me, of all his male staff, he knows exactly what they do and how to help. I listened as he continued….

He said the men on his team are first to boast, brag, confidently speak up about what they are working on, even if they know less than others. Do less than others. He said he never questions their load because it is brought to him and dropped on his doorstep so openly. 

Then he asked me, earnestly as his HR exec coach and strategic partner, why he can remember every single woman he has worked with, silently shouldering things he never knew about? Ideas, projects, heavy tasks, burdens he wasn’t aware of, weight they took on but never talked about... he said he has learned only of these massive contributions after it was too late, they left, or became too burnt out to the point of no return. Instead of bringing it to the doorstep, they silently loaded their backpack with all the weight and kept walking. 

He said once he realized the pattern, he became in tune and asked more often how he could help, what he could lift off, if they had enough support. 

Every time, they said they were fine. 

Every time, they left or burnt out. 

He said this team member we were originally discussing was the most talented on their team, by far the strongest. But she buries her pain, hides her exhaustion, takes on more with a smile, and yet he sees her crumbling and doesn’t know what to do. He said she verifies things 4x before she shares. She waits for others to speak and gain consensus before talking. She never says no, stays later than he knows she wants even after he says go home. With pleading eyes he asked me how to help him reach her, and I realized it was not only him I needed to help. 

It is her. 

As we face trying times this first quarter, burnout will be real…  there are men (or women) we work with who genuinely don’t understand this and want to, but can’t figure out how to reach us. Sometimes we become victims of our own heroism. Sometimes we don’t even know we are doing it, but by then it could be too late. We are tired, resentful, angry, feel unappreciated and insulted when asked if we need a hand. 

Watching this unfold from both perspectives, his and hers, I understood both perspectives. 

Managers and leaders, check in with your employees. Keep checking in. Genuinely. It’s not only the right thing to do, it will help you help them (and your team, company, customers) if you can keep connected and ahead of this feeling your employees may have. 

To those who need to hear it... Whatever the reason, Speak up. Or learn to. Or stop being afraid to. Share your accomplishments. Raise your hand. Have the answer even if you only verify once. Say no. Get home. We all continually ask for this but wait for permission, because we think it is what is expected of us. We think it means something. We feel proud and strong. We hold the sack and turn down the hand. We begin to blister but yet at the same time scoff at someone noticing us wince when we walk. 

Sometimes, like in this case with this amazing woman, mom of 3 kids, top of her talent..... we think we are slaying it... but in reality we are killing ourselves, not nearly winning the battle. 

What she failed to see as she waived the white flag .... is that the war was in her mind, when in reality she already won. 

She already had his support. 

She just needed to share what she was fighting within … and together we worked through a plan to join forces and combat the burnout together. 

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Keri Laine, MHR, CMS

Keri has held C-level roles in various size organizations, public and private. In the past fifteen years, she has specialized in helping technology, manufacturing, and engineering companies disrupt their sector with entrepreneurial, innovative success across the globe. Keri has led organizations through employee growth of 100 to 4,000, both public and private with revenue stages from $40m to $5.6b. She has facilitated 27 mergers and acquisitions globally, spearheading the talent and human capital perspective as well as the business integration, strategic planning, internal communication, and change management. She is a former global Chief level Executive that has taken three organizations public. Keri is a keynote speaker and author. Keri earned her undergraduate degree with a focus on Organizational Behavior from the prestigious Rollins College, where she also earned her Masters Degree in Human Capital Management, and now teaches Graduate level coursework related to strategy, planning, talent optimization, culture building, and more. She is also certified in Change Management, and is a Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach who has coached more than 200 of the top executives and entrepreneurs.

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