Manager burnout and how to deal with it
Managers define great companies. They support communication, culture, employee engagement, morale, productivity, and the future success of their teams. The backbone of any organization, good managers connect employees to leaders and are responsible for motivating everyone toward shared success.
Managers carry tremendous responsibility, from company growth and revenue to goals, team dynamics, communication, and initiatives. The constant pressure puts them at high risk for manager burnout, which is even more hazardous than employee burnout.
Burnout comes from many sources, including an overly competitive environment, increasing pressure, unrealistic expectations, and stressful personal life. This leads to a build-up of emotional, mental, and physical stress.
Conflicting priorities, an inability to reach expected success and repetitive frustrations lead to short tempers or physical illnesses that limit managers’ ability to do their job. Left unresolved, signs of leadership burnout can spread throughout the organization and lead to employee burnout.
In a constantly changing and turbulent environment, Energage research is showing managers are experiencing burnout more than ever:
- 38 percent of people often feel overwhelmed at work.
- 64 percent of executives believe well-being is a significant challenge.
- 60 percent of employees believe well-being and burnout initiatives are ineffective.
Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step in identifying a problem and finding a solution. Here are some common symptoms of leadership burnout:
- Venting anger towards employees, friends, or family.
- Withdrawing from colleagues, teams, or company events.
- Refusing to share their feelings and concerns.
- Increased absenteeism or procrastination.
- Losing site of professional development and growth.
- Exhibiting signs of emotional exhaustion and reduced efficiency.
Managers have different responsibilities than employees in individual contributor roles. Balancing leadership demands with team support can present a unique challenge. Other common causes include heavy workloads, isolation, long hours, miscommunication, stress, uncertainty, lack of recognition, and unhelpful performance reviews from their managers.
Luckily, there are effective solutions for reducing and preventing manager burnout. The first step is connection. Just as managers are expected to do with employees, leaders should encourage open communication with their managers. Knowing what matters most enables leaders to find ways to reduce and minimize manager burnout. Some ideas include:
- Amplified recognition for performance
- Coaching advice based on their own career experience
- Efficiency tools and technology
- Training and development programs
- Recurring 1:1 meetings
- Distribution of work
Improving employee and manager well-being means helping them find balance in their personal and professional lives. Implementing new programs that offer additional time off, child support, flexible working hours, or project re-delegation will prevent burnout and ensure employees have more time to focus on their work.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.