The business world is facing an epidemic in employee burnout, and it’s wreaking havoc on productivity and profitability. Burnout impairs job performance, increases healthcare costs, destroys employee retention rates, and impacts team morale. Many studies correlate employee burnout with stress, but the underlying root of that stress goes beyond simply having too much on your to-do list.

Most Employee Retention Problems Are Conative

In Conative Connection: Acting on Instincts, author Kathy Kolbe attributes burnout to conative mismatches: “Meltdown occurs when people who know perfectly well who they are suffer from unrealistic external, rather than self-imposed, pressure to act otherwise.” This incongruity can exist between managers and employees, people and industries, newly merged leadership, the next generation and their founders. In short, burnout is the result of trying to squeeze a square object into a round hole.

While many personality assessments focus on how you think or feel, Kolbe Indexes measures your instinctive way of doing things. Results are broken down into four Action Modes: Fact Finder, Follow Thru, QuickStart, and Implementer. All-too-often, we place employees into certain roles based on their personality. For example, a hiring manager assumes that an extroverted individual would be the most likely to win the sale. In reality, a person’s conative leanings, not personality, may be a better indicator of success in specific roles.

“Companies lose out on needed talent when they treat people as robots — “things” with no conative instinct.”

Here are just a few of the breakdowns that can occur when each Action Mode is pushed in a role or situation that does not align with his/her natural instincts.

Fact Finder

  • Ignores past experience
  • Acts inappropriately
  • Doesn’t deal with complexities
  • Pays no attention to detail
  • Is not strategically oriented

Follow Thru

  • Avoids procedures
  • Fights the system
  • Uses time inefficiently
  • Is noncompliant
  • Leaves Loose Ends

Quick Start

  • Lacks a sense of urgency
  • Resists change
  • Has difficulty dealing with ambiguity
  • Is inflexible
  • Won’t take risks


  • Ignores durability factors
  • Doesn’t deal well with tangibles
  • Lacks sensitivity to product quality
  • Doesn’t maintain plant and equipment
  • Puts off making repairs

How to Prevent Burnout and Boost Morale

What’s the solution? If you’re struggling with employee burnout, it’s time to fine tune your expectations and positioning of talent. You can do this by:

  • providing  ample opportunities for your employees to perform according to their unique MO
  • never expecting your employees to conform to set patterns of performance
  • never underestimating natural instinct’s role in job success.

Ready to bring out the best in your people? First, you’ll need to understand them. At 3Ci, we offer unique training experiences and customized programs in Atlanta that will help you make it happen. Get in touch today to learn more.