Management Burnout – Part 1: The What and Why

Are you BURNT OUT? Are your Managers?


I do a lot of talking about managers inspiring, communicating and evaluating their teams. It is easy to continuously talk about management techniques since a large part of being a successful manager is based on the performance of your team. Today I want to take a step back and instead of talking about how to manage others, talk about what it takes to stay on top of your own career, health, and happiness as a manager or executive.


What Management Burnout is:

Managers, just like all other employees, feel the stress and anxiety of the job. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “[Burnout] is not unusual among executives and managers, and it is more likely to occur under competitive conditions than in a stable market.” Many leaders successfully navigate through high levels of stress and anxiety on a daily basis, but when does this burden cross the line and steer your top managers and executives straight into burnout? Manager burnout is defined by the Mayo Clinic as, “A state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

With managers working longer hours, having more responsibilities, and overall less training and support from companies, it is no wonder that 96% of senior leaders feel somewhat burned out, with one third of them stating the burnout is severe!



Why it’s bad for business:

The difference between a manager and an employee burning out, is when managers burn out, it can have an exponentially larger impact on the company:

  • They stop making decisions
  • Managers stop prioritizing
  • They question if they can do their job


A manager that is showing the signs of being burned out can also cause a higher turnover rate within their department or team due to their temperaments, lack of vision, poor communication and unclear demands.

One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is when a manager feels like they are burned out is they think their only option is to leave, or they think they are failing themselves/their team/their company.

Almost all managers go through feeling burnt out and what is important is that you identify it quickly so you and your company can take the necessary steps to get yourself back up to feeling great, having a high level of performance and continuing on their successful path.



How to See the Signs:

At the core of manager burnout is exhaustion and stress. While these feelings are not atypical for managers to feel, they become serious issues when not identified. The Harvard Business Review gives six main ways to see the  signs of burnout in managers:

  1. Chronic fatigue
  2. Anger at those making demands
  3. Self-criticism for putting up with the demands
  4. Cynicism, negativity, and irritability
  5. A sense of being besieged
  6. Hair-trigger display of emotions.


If you are a manager, take a moment and be honest with yourself. Do you exhibit any of the aforementioned signs? If you are an executive with reporting managers, have you noticed any of them starting to exhibit these traits? Maybe you or your managers are feeling drained and on the verge of becoming completely burnt out. There is no reason to wait for the situation to come to a head before taking action!

Keep reading Part 2: How to Reignite the Drive in Yourself and Your Managers.