Monday, September 25, 2023

Steps CIOs Can Take to Avoid Burnout

By Prangya Pandab - October 04, 2022 4 Mins Read


Constant change, long hours, the growing responsibilities in the company, and the perpetual struggle to find and develop new talent and be exhausting. But, as leaders, CIOs are aware that they must continue to demonstrate commitment, drive, and optimism to the people around them.

The economic and social impact of the pandemic has offered CIOs greater responsibility and opportunity in the boardroom and has led to additional pressure on project delivery teams to accelerate multiyear digital transformation initiatives. As a result, business expectations for IT teams have increased, which is a bit of a double-edged sword.

Since the COVID pandemic, Chief Information Officers have had to find ways to combat the symptoms of burnout in their IT teams. But what about themselves?

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Recognizing the Symptoms

It’s critical to identify potential burnout symptoms while it is still in the early stages, just like with any medical ailment. It’s also fair to assume that few CIOs have not experienced burnout before in their professional lives.

Burnout can be characterized by anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, a lack of creativity and a sense of purpose, emotional numbness, or a pessimistic outlook. When CIOs exhibit these symptoms, they may discover that they start to lose their patience, temper, and so on.

This is a bad situation, but the good news is that many CIOs are able to detect these symptoms before they develop into destructive patterns of behavior, and they can take action to change them.


While it may be important to break away from work and take some time off in severe cases of burnout, the majority of CIOs choose to self-manage their own burnout so they may gradually recover from it. Here are three strategies they can follow:

Review Daily Priorities

Yes, there are days when CIOs must put in 10 to 14 hours of work, but this is not the case most of the time. If so, they should review their workload and responsibilities, determine what is taking up all these hours, and rectify it.

CIOs encourage their teams to have a work-life balance and take time out for family and friends. The same is required of them for themselves.

If they are hard-core over-achievers who live by due dates, timeframes, and calendars, they might have to schedule their off times for family, friends, and activities that they enjoy, which can take them away from work and allow them to decompress.

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While some tasks in their work must be handled by them, other tasks can be delegated to senior staff. This could involve assigning IT leaders to evaluate or create the IT strategic plan. Budget formulation and the recruiting and training of new employees are two more tasks that can be successfully delegated.

Delegating can reduce the strain of their own workload. Because they give their employees important responsibilities, it also fosters loyalty and confidence in them.

However, a lot of CIOs acknowledge that they require a constant sense of control. As a result, they cannot delegate because they fear the tasks will not be completed to the standard they desire. Selecting just one or two things to delegate initially can help them deal with this sense of loss of control. Over a pilot period, they can observe how the people they assign these jobs accomplish. They can allow them to continue if they are doing well. CIOs can always intervene again before things get out of hand.

Replacement Rather Than Elimination

CIOs need to come up with inspiring and renewing activities to occupy the additional three hours if they want to cut a 12-hour day down to a 9-hour day. For some, it might be reading or meditation; for others, exercise and sporting events, family time, cooking, or attending a class. Whatever CIOs decide to do in place of those extra hours at work doesn’t really matter as long as it improves wellbeing.

Addressing Burnout

Burnout is a real issue; in many instances, it necessitates time off from work and/or professional counseling. However, there are numerous instances where it is feasible to self-manage one’s way out of burnout, particularly if CIOs identify burnout quickly and follow up aggressively with a strategy they follow through with.

CIOs can steer themselves out of burnout with deliberate self-management. Their IT teams will be grateful for it.

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Prangya Pandab

Prangya Pandab is an Associate Editor with OnDot Media. She is a seasoned journalist with almost seven years of experience in the business news sector. Before joining ODM, she was a journalist with CNBC-TV18 for four years. She also had a brief stint with an infrastructure finance company working for their communications and branding vertical.

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