Combating Manager Burnout in Your Business
You’ve probably heard all about the current trend of employee burnout. The news is reporting on it, people are talking about it, and we are seeing it every day with employees either not being as productive or even leaving the workforce completely. But have you thought about how burnout is impacting you?
Just because managers and owners are the ones making the decisions doesn’t mean you are any less susceptible to burnout. In fact, some recent studies suggest managers are getting even more burned out than their workers in this post-covid era. The past few years have meant that management has had to help the business and employees navigate a difficult pandemic, demonstrate a high degree of empathy and flexibility, deal with supply chain challenges, worker shortages, price hikes…. The list goes on, and for many, there was little to no acknowledgement of the efforts being undertaken to keep everything afloat.
Perhaps one of the better definitions of burnout I’ve seen actually comes from the US Surgeon General, who defines it as, “Burnout is an occupational syndrome characterized by a high degree of emotional exhaustion and de-personalization (i.e., cynicism), and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work.” But what does that mean in more practical terms? A few of the signs of burnout you might recognize include:
- Less patience with both employees and family members, with a quick temper when things go wrong that is disproportionate in retrospect to the situation.
- Pulling away from people in both your work and personal lives, becoming more withdrawn, quiet, or introspective.
- Procrastinating more on everything, including major decisions on capital investments, work that needs to be done to meet deadlines, even chores around the house on the weekends.
- Stepping back from — or eliminating completely — professional and personal development, including attending industry events, reading industry publications, learning new skills, or participating in training activities.
- Getting more exhausted on a daily basis, with little to no energy left at the end of the day, no matter how much sleep you are getting.
And these are just some of the biggest symptoms. If any of these sound familiar to you, you’re probably suffering from manager burnout. Fortunately, once you recognize that you are suffering from burnout, there are things you can do to help. Here are a few ideas to get you started pulling yourself out and getting yourself excited about your business again.
- Get physical. Have you been indulging in the exercises, hobbies, etc. that you love in the last few months — or years? While it can be hard to feel motivated to get up and out of the house when you’re feeling burned out, it’s worth it to make yourself get up and start moving again. Go for a walk. Get back to the gym. Ride your bike. Remember the things you loved to do before the craziness of the last few years, and get back out there. It might be hard at first, but even setting aside a few minutes once a week will start to help you regain your sense of self.
- Check your diet. The pandemic turned us all into shut-ins, and for most of us, indulging in unhealthy eating habits was one way of coping with the stress and uncertainty. But now it’s time to start taking a hard look at the bad habits that have crept in, and start treating yourself better.
- Take time to breathe. Yes, the printing and promo business can be fast paced, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take five minutes to just stop and breathe when things are feeling overwhelming. It’s okay to go into your office and just take a few minutes to yourself before jumping back into the problem of the day. There is nothing short of your shop being on fire that will be negatively impacted if you take a few minutes to regroup.
- Practice self-care. Yes, this is a trendy buzzword you’ve probably heard too much about. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Drink a glass of wine in the hot tub. Go watch a movie. Pick up a book and read for pleasure. Take your kids apple picking. Whatever it is that you truly enjoy and lets you be present in the moment without any worry about work or stress is worthwhile.
- Talk to people. One of the symptoms of burnout is pulling back from the people in your life, so one of the ways to help combat it is to reconnect. Talk to your employees — not just about the latest deadlines or press issues, but about what’s going on in their lives. Talk to your spouse, your kids, your parents. Talk to your friends. Make a point of re-establishing the human connection with the people around you.
- Take a hard look at your task list. Take the time to really sit down and think about everything you do in a day — do you really need to be the one making all those decisions? Are there things you can delegate, or things that you need to let go of and trust the people you’ve hired to do their jobs? You don’t have the bandwidth to make every single decision in your business, so figure out which ones still need your touch, and which ones you can pass along to free up both mental and physical time.
In the end, finding ways to deal with your own burnout will allow you to be a better owner, manager, and employer, which in turn will help your business grow and thrive. It’s okay to admit that the last few years have been extraordinarily difficult, but now it’s time to start taking a step back and allowing yourself to find a better balance in your life that you can sustain long term.