May 23

How to Deal with Burnout while leading a team?


How to Deal with Burnout while leading a team…

My first experience with burnout was when I wanted to just disappear in the office but couldn’t. The open-door policy didn’t give me the space to hide and just bury my head for a bit – I didn’t want to have to deal with my own work, manage people and their work anymore!

The constant pressure of wanting to close the door and keep it closed – but knowing that you can’t because you have to keep the team motivated, manage the tight schedules, the long to-do lists, and the pressure to deliver results, can be draining.

If you feel like you are doing more with less and it’s a constant cycle of the same…

The never-ending cycle is a sign that something needs to change!

It goes without saying that part of the job is to support employees and guide them through intense work periods. But while you help others avoid burnout, who is looking out for you?

But is it stress or burnout? Burnout is the evolved formed of stress, – stress’ older brother – particularly where stress has been prolonged for a long period.  Think of it this way – it’s the equivalent to reaching the boiling point. According to CAMH, “burnout presents more as disengagement and produces a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, with loss of motivation and hope, [which can] lead to depression and detachment.”

So, how can you manage the effects of  burnout, while leading your team?


Take Breaks

If you are feeling overwhelmed, or burnout, it’s a combination of your demands meeting your capacity and your thoughts of what is possible.

Let’s not think of it as a unicorn situation, where you can just stop the train and that’s that! Burnout is considered physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. But let’s be realistic… You may not have the option to come to a complete stop. It will be hard, but you need to take the foot of the gas – SLOW DOWN and just focus on self-care. Sometimes the best solution is to take a break from everything and just focus on yourself.

Take the personal days to de-compress. I mean, de-compress – Netflix, Yoga, Meditation, Hulu, whatever it is you do! Find the things that energizes you, whether it’s your hobbies, or exercise. During this time, don’t sweat the small stuff – focus on just letting go.


Address the Cause for Burnout

Why are you feeling exhausted?

A lot of times we get caught in the cycle without taking inventory of why? Why do you need to? Or should do something? In other cases, it’s to avoid looking stupid, incompetent, or worst … getting fired.

Once you take the break, take the time to reflect on what is the root cause of your burnout? Whether it’s work overload, intense pressure from upper management, or your direct team —pinpoint your frustrations and come up with a plan to address them. It won’t be overnight, so take the time to understand the why than rushing to solutioning…


Focus on the Positive Side of Work

Yes, this is easier said than done! When you’re overwhelmed or experiencing burnout, everything looks bleak, problems seem impossible to fix —and it may be difficult to find the energy to take action. But focus on the positives of what your role brings. When you feel this way, go outside yourself and take the glass half full. Genuinely, you get to choose your own adventure, so focus on the things that give you pleasure.

Think about your role as a manager, and what makes you feel accomplished? What excites or drives you to wake up every day and drive to the office?

Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

A lot of times stressors lead to burnout when we don’t set boundaries, communicate, and re-enforce them. Think about your feelings, what’s coming up. When you are leading a team – your self-awareness and emotional intelligence need to be at the forefront. What are you reacting to? Why? And how can you take a step back to set the boundaries necessary to manage expectations? Be transparent with your team and yourself.  Create a distinction between your work and personal life. What you do outside your organization could also contribute to your risk of burnout. Set up best practices that encourages a culture of support for personal, and individual time, not just for you but for your team.


The best way to deal with burnout as a manger is prevention.

Take breaks, address the cause of your burnout, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

One size doesn’t fit all, so take a step back and re-evaluate how you’re feeling? And why?, and ask yourself, “if I could change one thing – just one thing to feel a bit better what would that look like?” Remember, how you feel and respond creates a ripple effect on your team.


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