Both are the product of organizational health. Or should I say, a lack of organizational health? How we view the two is important. Burnout is not the same as demoralization and vice versa.
According to Merriam Webster, demoralize is:
1: to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right
2a: to weaken the morale of
2b: to upset or destroy the normal functioning of
2c: to throw into disorder
Whereas the dictionary defines burnout as:
1: to drive out or destroy the property of by fire
2: to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse
Both are detrimental to a school. Both plague education in its current state (listen to S3 Episode 2, to support that assertion). Both push teachers away. While the two words share many features, they have vastly different implications.
Demoralization undermines the judgment of the professional, creates disorder, and weakens morale. It’s done to the professional by the organization.
Burnout is exhaustion and failure due to fatigue. It can be done to the professional or because of the professional. It can also happen when there’s a lack of leading with heart.
- Do you know which of these your teachers experience?
- Do you know which of these your organization causes?
- Do you know which of your efforts minimize these?
Your people, culture, and impact depend on the answers to these questions.