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Your Managers Are Burning Out. What Are You Going To Do About It?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

I’ve long spoken (and written) about the role of managers in easing employee burnout. In every case, I’ve mentioned managers need help and support too. But are they getting the support they need? Studies show us they probably aren’t.

The Great Resignation rages on in the US. It’s maybe not quite as prominent in other countries, but I’m sure seeing a lot of movement in Canada and bet similar is happening in other geographical locations. The amount of open positions is very high, so there is a lot of opportunity for people to move to new companies. We’re also seeing people say “adios” to jobs they have not been particularly engaged in to pursue roles in other industries entirely. These record high quit rates are causing all kinds of headaches for managers.

Throughout the turmoil of the pandemic, we’ve seen a real lack of employee well-being reported. What’s new was the worsening of manager well-being in 2021.

Why should leaders care?

Stressed and burnt-out managers present businesses with a real problem right now. Managers are the lynch pin to engagement in organizations. They are the most critical factor in attracting and retaining employees. With 48% of employees actively looking for a new job right now, you can see how crucial good managers are.

  • Employee well-being (including that of managers) directly impacts the bottom line through turnover.

  • Well-being (or lack thereof) impacts the organization’s reputation and brand. 71% of employees who agree their company cares about their well being strongly advocate for their organization as a place to work versus 12% of those who don’t agree.

  • Resiliency is impacted by well-being. Employees with higher well-being are less likely to experience burnout, diagnosed anxiety and depression.

  • Well-being adds to employee engagement. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity and lower turnover.

Now let’s turn the focus over to managers.

Managers are part of the employee complement of an organization—let’s not forget that. All that is listed above applies to them as well. However, they also have the added responsibilities of worrying about those who report to them, and those to whom they report. Managers are in a squeeze, and this significantly impacts their mental health and well-being.

Managers I've worked with have reported feeling overwhelmed and having an unmanageable workload. They are experiencing an increase in work and decrease in time to complete it, and they have employees who are feeling the heat and need to rely on them for help and guidance. They’re feeling the pressure and may not have the support they need from their own managers.

So, how can organizations support their managers?

To begin, organizations have to understand that managers are employees too. They need all of the things that employees need to be engaged in and inspired by their work. They need regular, frequent, and consistent one on one conversations with their boss. These conversations, it’s been shown, lead to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction—crucial in this time of high turnover.

One on one conversations provide an ideal opportunity for communication from leadership. This is something managers truly need in order to pass on the what and why of work to their teams. Managers are tasked with implementing leadership decisions through the work of their teams. It’s challenging to do this without a clear picture of what those leadership imperatives are.

Employee development has always been important. However, it’s taken on even more importance now. Two thirds of employees would leave their jobs due to lack of training and development. Managers also need to feel they are growing and progressing in their roles. Their bosses should be having coaching and career pathing conversations with them, just as managers are expected to have with their reports.

Having quality one on one conversations with managers will help them to capitalize on their strengths and they, in turn, can have conversations of the same type with their reports, leading to a sense of overall value within the organization. Modeling one on one conversations is a powerful demonstration to managers of how to engage and inspire their team members.

If you’re a manager, talk to your boss about development opportunities you can be taking advantage of. You deserve to be invested in. There are programs out there that can help you to grow, learn, and be a better manager than you are today. Ask your boss if the company will put out some budget to bring in a trainer for the management team and invest in some coaching for application. It’s a worthwhile investment and can lead to you being a much more dialed-in people leader than you are right now.

While certainly worth it, training programs may cost a little more than the company is able to spend. If that’s the case, invest in management books and do some self-study. Encourage other managers in your company to read the same book and have discussions around it to think through key concepts and ideas for application. Some organizations and professional associations have formed book clubs. What a great idea and great way of promoting discussion and idea sharing amongst people leaders! If what you’ve learned from reading is making a positive difference, use that information to justify bringing in the author (in-person or Zoom, depending on where we’re at) to do a talk about the book. Some authors will charge a LOT for this. However, others (like me) will be much more affordable.

If you’re a senior leader, find some time and money to develop your managers. Now that you know how important they are to the bottom line, doesn’t it make sense to invest in them?


Manager training is what I do. Check out my programs at or speak to me about customized programs for your team.

And check out my book for a resource on how you can become a better manager.


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