Author Q&A: The Myth of Employee Burnout by Matt Heller

Matt Heller has spent 25 years in the amusement/theme park industry. Starting as a ride operator at Canobie Lake Park just out of high school, Matt has enjoyed a robust career around the industry with leadership positions at Canobie, Knott's Camp Snoopy, Valleyfair and Smiles Entertainment Center.

Pulling from his previous leadership experience, in 2003 Matt joined Universal Orlando Resort as the Senior Trainer of Leadership Development.

In 2011, Matt reduced his role at Universal to pursue additional independent training and consulting opportunities. He created Performance Optimist Consulting, and now helps leaders across the hospitality industry make sure they are getting the most out of themselves and their teams. In 2013, Matt released his first book, The Myth of Employee Burnout.

Deborah: You've been a guest on Women Entrepreneurs Radio, and now you're here to discuss your book. Glad you could join me again!

Matt: Great to be here, Deborah. 

Deborah: This is such an interesting topic. What prompted you to write this book?

Matt: It was a combination of seeing a problem and feeling like I had enough information about how to address it that I thought it would be helpful to people. Burnout, unfortunately, happens everywhere, yet we rarely take the time or are self-aware enough to get to the root cause of the problem.

Deborah: Could you describe the details you include in the book?

Matt: The Myth of Employee Burnout is about the phenomenon of employees starting a job off strong (productive, enthused, cooperative) but over time their motivation and engagement wanes. Burnout, unfortunately, happens everywhere, yet we rarely take the time or are self-aware enough to get to the root cause of the problem. In the workplace, when employees are burned out, a great deal of that scenario is determined by the leaders’ actions.

People rarely start a job burned out, so it was important to identify what was happening between their hire date and their “burnout” date. The book contains strategies for leaders to create engaging environments for their employees to minimize the risk of burnout setting in.

 Deborah: Who do you think will get the most out of your book?

Matt: Leaders with enough self-awareness to see that they are at least partially responsible if their employees have burned out. Those who continually blame outside forces or fail to take accountability might not be open minded enough to identify that they are doing some of the things described in the book.

Deborah: Why do you think your book is different from others that deal with workplace issues? 

Matt: It’s the only one written by me! It’s probably the only book that looks at employee engagement from an end point (burnout), which allows us to work backwards to find the root cause so we can proactively prevent it in the future.

It also deliberately defines the relationship between leadership engagement and employee engagement, and outlines specific (sometimes very simple) strategies that any leader can incorporate to have a positive impact on employee morale. 

Deborah: What do you want readers to come away with?

Matt: As much as we discuss how leaders contribute to employee burnout, that also means that they hold the key to preventing it. Sometimes it’s a change in focus or priorities, other times it’s about reallocating resources and developing new skills. No matter the cause, the solution generally falls with the leader, if they are willing to look for it.

Deborah: Good points. Tell me, what inspires you to do this work?

Matt: I love to help people, and it’s incredibly gratifying when someone “gets” the concepts you are teaching them about – which ultimately is going to help them do something better. As someone with an outsider’s perspective, it can be tough to build credibility. But, when a leader trusts you enough to apply what you have taught them (and they see that it makes things better), it’s incredibly inspiring and makes you want to continue to do it! 

Deborah: Sounds great, Matt. Thanks for sharing your book with us. Please let everyone know where to find it and connect with you online.

Matt: Thanks again for having me as a guest on your blog! Here are the links:



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