The Antidote to Manager Burnout

By: Erika Portolese

Gallup recently discovered that managers are more likely to burn out than the people they manage. Jennifer Robison, a writer for Workplace said, “In other words, the people most responsible for team performance are also at the highest risk of burning out.”

Effective managers drive productivity, performance, engagement, and retention for organizations. They also impact things such as, decision making, customer service, and quality control. If they are burned out, nothing good can come of it for the organizations they work for. In addition, their health tends to suffer. Burned-out workers are much more likely to take sick days and to visit the ER.

Finding ways to impact this trend will impact the manager themselves, as well as the team and your organizational resilience. Robison believes there are four ways employers can address these issues.

First, organizations should tackle your managers’ greatest challenges. According to Robison, the five greatest challenges of managers today are: unclear expectations, heavy workloads and distractions, job stress and frustrations, less focus on their strengths, and frustrating performance reviews.

Second, there are several areas that are considered the most positive aspects of the manager experience, and organizations should make sure they are capitalizing on those areas. They are: voice and involvement in decision making, autonomy and control of their work, collaborative work environment, opportunities for development and career advancement, and motivating pay incentives.

Next, “Leveraging those positives in the manager experience is a crucial, practical tactic. If you do it by simultaneously defanging the challenges, you’ll magnify the effect,” Robison says. This involves clarifying expectations and involving managers in decision making, right-sizing workloads and giving managers control over their work, spurring collaboration and reduce stress, and developing managers and focusing on their strengths.

Lastly, leadership is woven through the above tactics. Managers depend on leaders for their success; leaders’ participation is a vital piece of the puzzle. Manager burnout was already declared an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization, before the pandemic. Therefore, it was not much of a surprise when Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace report found, “extraordinarily high rates of worry, stress, anger and sadness among employees across the world.”  There has never been a more urgent time, than now, to address this issue. “Managers are responsible for the burnout antidotes of engagement and wellbeing — so when they burn out, individual contributors can’t hope for much help,” Robison says.

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