Using DISC to Identify Virtual Burnout

Burnout is usually defined as a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses shifted to utilizing virtual platforms to continue operations, hold meetings, and stay connected with leadership, staff, clients, and even other companies. In addition, many faced the added responsibility of ensuring school-aged children were completing their schoolwork from home, requiring a substantial amount of time and attention during regular business hours. Regardless if WFH is here to stay, we're increasingly living in a virtual environment and virtual burnout will continue to be a threat to consider.

It is highly likely the initial barrage of day-to-day, back-to-back virtual meetings presented a personal challenge for many, especially those who had previously not experienced this type of “work from home” environment. The constant engagement through audio and visual means can contribute to an increase in stress, leading to burnout if not carefully managed.

The DISC behavioral assessment offers valuable insight into predictable behavior, which can help identify your challenges while engaging in long-term virtual work and help you manage stress and burnout.

  • “D” Style: These team members are great organizers and innovative thinkers who look to make things happen. They value time and the ability to lead and make decisions to keep moving forward. Too much time engaging in virtual meetings as merely an observer can be viewed as wasted time, and they may begin to feel as though their time is being taken advantage of. You may see their behavior turn to frustration, lack of patience, rash decision-making, and rudeness or sarcasm.
  • “I” Style: These team members are creative problem solvers and encouragers. They are natural motivators who operate by leading with a sense of humor. They value social interaction and connecting with others. However, too much time spent engaging in virtual meetings as an observer can be difficult for them to remain engaged, resulting in the oversight of key details and information. Their lack of attention may be viewed as boredom unless they have the opportunity to engage and socialize verbally.
  • “S” Style: These team members are reliable, dependent, and good listeners. They are detail-oriented and ensure compliance with guidelines and instructions. They value the opportunity to engage in a team setting, even virtually. However, when the rapid move to virtual meetings occurred, they were likely resistant at first and struggled with the adjustment. The time required to adjust to their new environment likely increased stress levels, perhaps demonstrated by a decrease in motivation, indecisiveness, and avoidance of responsibility.
  • “C” Style: These team members are thorough, detail-oriented information gatherers. While motivated by a task or process-oriented virtual discussions, they value the details. Too much time spent virtually socializing or veering off-topic during a meeting may prove frustrating and cause increased stress levels. They prefer to operate in an environment with set expectations, but are unlikely to voice concerns when presented with conflict. Frustration may be demonstrated by their criticism of others, unwillingness to socialize, and reluctance to work on projects with others.

Regardless of the dominant behavioral style of leaders and teammates, it is important for each individual to understand the team’s typical behaviors to hone in on the moments when someone is experiencing elevated amounts of stress or simply having a bad day. Keep in mind everyone experiences life through their own five senses, and while it may not look, feel, or sound the same as yours, you can still help them through challenging times.

Even while many businesses are beginning to cautiously head back into the physical office, many are choosing to remain virtual. Stress management will continue to be a priority for those offering the option to return to work or stay at home, as businesses continue to navigate the ever-changing pandemic landscape.

Utilize DISC to help enhance your team’s ability to identify signs of burnout. Work together to develop strategies to keep virtual meetings engaging, timely, and relevant, while keeping teammates engaged, optimistic, and productive.

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Written by: Lindy Lamielle

Lindy is a retired Air Force veteran, Certified Behavioral Life Coach, and DISC Consultant and entrepreneur who enjoys learning and sharing knowledge. When she's not sitting on the soccer field sidelines or putting out teenage fires, she fills her cup through speaking, writing, coaching small business owners and entrepreneurs, and performing a little social media sourcery. Personality Style: S-I