SMB Row 31

4 Ways to Ignite Passion without Causing Burnout

This past January,Webconnex finally released the latest version of our online event registration fundraising software to the public. Why do I say finally?


Because it took us three years to build and release—an eternity in our industry. Big ideas take time to develop, and a lot can happen between an idea and a launch. What did we learn? Among the biggest threats to success is burning your team out along the way.

If you’re working on a big idea that requires your best people, here are four ways you can manage the process without hurting your team:

1. Set audacious goals

Conventional wisdom may suggest that setting your sights too high will lead to failure. However, when motivating your team, there is something special about setting audacious goals that invigorates people. It explains why thousands of people travel around the world to climb Mount Kilimanjaro when they could hike their own grassy knoll instead. If you want to draw the best out of your team, you need to capture their passion by casting a big vision. Make it meaningful, significant, and adventurous. (Here’s more information on casting that vision and making it stick.)

2. Set bounties and create rewards

When we work on a big new feature, it’s not unusual to tie bonuses to various stages of completion. Why do we do this? Because complacency is an innovation killer. Your team can easily get demoralized if there is no marginal benefit to them whether their performance is legendary or mediocre. Add some extra motivation to the team by setting rewards and bounties for key milestones. Don’t be afraid to make it competitive and fun. This also has the added benefit of creating newness throughout each stage of the project.

3. Maintain momentum by finding “quick wins"

If your team goes too long without successfully accomplishing a task, project fatigue can set it. This is especially true if your team gets stuck on a complicated task for enough time. If you get stuck, pull back and work on something smaller that you can knock off the list. The satisfaction of accomplishing a task goes a long way in resetting your morale. It’s also amazing how often you can get unstuck on the larger task simply by taking a break and working on something else. Coordinate the project tasks to regularly find quick wins so that the team can feel like they are always moving forward.

4. Done is better than perfect

Your team inherently wants to do great work and have that work be their best work ever. Yet part of the challenge in doing great work is not getting stuck in the trap of perfectionism. Pursuit of perfection can lead to long delays, rewrites, and paralysis by analysis. In keeping the project moving forward and keeping everyone energized, be okay making temporary tradeoffs to reach completeness rather than perfection. It’s better to iterate and improve on a completed work rather than holding the team up to get that one piece perfect.

Applying these four processes has been transformational for our company. Our team is always ready and eager to work on big new ideas. In fact, we ship features faster than ever before. Our company culture is thriving, and we are growing at breakneck speed—all without burning out. Apply these processes yourself, and see what changes take place for your team.