How to address burnout with your manager

How to address burnout with your manager
April 16, 2020 Linda Murray
linda murray burnout

In my previous post I provided an important strategy for preventing burnout; talk to someone.

Since then I’ve had several comments from people sharing that this is one strategy they struggle with the most. A perceived sense of vulnerability is triggered

I can understand an individual’s reluctance to talk about their worries and feelings, but at some stage, this will all come to the surface. You can talk about them now, while you’re still coping, or you’ll have to discuss them when you totally burn out and your work is out of control.

Now is the time to do it, right?

But here is the critical first step, the person you need to talk to is your manager. There are two reasons why.

First, your manager is the person who may be able to ease or change your workload.

Second, if you’re approaching burnout, others maybe, too. Your manager needs to know before the situation gets worse.

Here are some tips to support you stepping up and having what I consider a courageous conversation:

  1. You’re used to pushing yourself to be the best you can be, and meeting or exceeding goals. You’re probably struggling with this new concept of yourself and talking about it might not be easy. You’ll be out of your comfort zone and possibly emotional. It can help to think about what you want to say beforehand.
  2. Some reflection will help you work out which factors are contributing to your burnout. I find it useful to write them down because it helps me see which ones are within my power to control and which are note.
  3. Review your workload and decide what is it you need to do now, what can be deferred, or perhaps passed onto someone else. This shows your priorities and will give your manager something to work with.
  4. Book the meeting with your manager. If you’re concerned about having it in the office, perhaps suggest a coffee meeting or a chat over lunch. The informal environment sometimes eases the conversation.
  5. You don’t have to have all the answers. You’re not thinking as clearly as you normally do so ask for help. It’s OK to do that. You don’t have to do all the talking, either. If you’re struggling to express yourself, your manager will guide you with questions. He or she only wants the best for you because that’s when you’re best for the team.

Make sure you’re happy with the strategies you and the manager put in place. Set a time frame for them and make an appointment to review things in a couple of weeks.

One thing I do need to say is this… If your manager is a factor in your burnout, perhaps speaking to your HR person might be a good choice. HR can manage the situation for you both without damaging the relationship.

Looking after yourself is your responsibility but it’s also the responsibility of your workplace. There’s no shame in speaking up. In fact, it’s important that you do. Managing your burnout now will help keep your team operating smoothly. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for them.

Reach out if you need help with this. Talk to me and I’ll coach you through it.

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