That’s why it’s so important to recognize these signs as a leader—and nip them in the bud.
“We have a very hyper-successful culture at IWT where nobody wants to disappoint anybody else,” Gretchen explains. “So I have to remind people that, while it’s not necessarily okay to just randomly miss a deadline, it is perfectly acceptable to say, ‘Hey, I’m really over-allocated today. Instead of delivering this today, can I get it to you next week?’”
Part of this requires an acute awareness of your team’s stress and happiness levels. If you’re not in tune with where they are with their work, you might end up missing the signs of burnout—and that could end up hurting everyone.
A big part of addressing this boils down to communication… which brings us to:
Lesson #3: Normalize asking for help
Communicating this to your team is crucial. You need to make them aware that it’s not only okay to ask for help, but encouraged. This will go a VERY long way in fostering a healthy work environment—and a successful 4DWW trial.
“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sound sign of actually being really self-aware,” Gretchen says.
She added that it’s vital that you’re able to instill this message into the bedrock of your company’s culture. If not, you might easily end up with dissatisfied and constantly burned out employees.
It’s one thing to talk about it, though, and a whole other thing entirely to do it yourself as a leader. But, when you practice this value, they become more than just some hollow words about cOmPaNy VaLuEs written on a dusty HR document. They become real.
“That’s a very powerful message when you see your boss saying, ‘I also am having a hard time with this and need help,’” Gretchen explains. “But I think that normalizes the fact that we’re all learning together and can rely on one another.”
Lesson #4: Embrace intentionality
While you want to make sure that your team is happy and not overworked, you also want to make sure that what time they are in the office is used to the best of their ability.
That starts with intentionality. Once you make it clear to them what the business’s goals are, they’ll be able to get a sense of how they should prioritize their work to achieve those goals.
“IWT employees all have that intentionality before they just sit down to work every day,” Gretchen says. “They spend a moment and they think about, ‘What is my high-value activity? What do I have to get done today? And what if it doesn’t get done?’ They really are great at figuring it out, focusing on the high-value priorities, and knowing what’s inevitable and what won’t get done.”
One thing you might notice about all these lessons is that they can be applied to many facets of life beyond the 4DWW. That’s the beauty of this challenge. As Gretchen says, “There’s no silver bullet.”
The things that make a business successful or unsuccessful at the 4DWW are the very same things that make it successful in any other scenario. It’s the same nuts-and-bolts lessons that every leader should have when leading a team.
Remember: Anyone can be a leader. Luckily, the things that make you a good leader in good times are practically the same things that make you a good leader in tougher times.
“It’s all the things that make you great at working well,” Gretchen says. “This is just a crucible for really refining those skills. Even if we stopped the 4-day workweek tomorrow, I think we would all be better for what we’ve learned from doing it because it makes us so mindful and thoughtful about how we work—and that was really one of my goals with the 4-day workweek. It really pushes you to be intentional in how you work.”