According to Microsoft's latest Work Trend Index, 53% of managers report feeling burnt out at work. Although shocking, the statistic is hardly surprising.
The past few years have required managers to increase employee support to navigate existential issues such as the pandemic and its aftermath, and the cost-of-living crisis. All while managing their own wellbeing and workload.
UKG’s Workforce Institute surveyed over 3,000 people across 10 countries. Their report suggests managers have the same impact on people’s mental health as their spouses, with more of an impact than a therapist or doctor. Microsoft's research shows that employees are also dealing with burnout as managers struggle to cope.
What is causing manager burnout?
Despite the changes to the workplace since the pandemic, many managers have not had adequate training. Forbes reported on 15Five’s 2023 Manager Effectiveness Report that found around half of managers had not received training in critical human skills such as psychological safety in the workplace.
An increasing workload
Company O.C Tanner found that nearly 50% of UK managers have reported an increase in workload since the pandemic. To keep remote teams and hybrid teams together, meetings have increased since the pandemic — further adding to manager tasks. Approximately 55 million meetings take place in the US every week, with the average manager attending more than 16.
Poor workplace culture
When managers show signs of burnout, workplace culture can often be blamed. There are several factors that contribute to culture problems. These factors include competitive environments, lack of transparency, and leaders who do not adhere to or measure how their efforts are directed to the company's purpose. When managers lack direction, they can experience confusion and frustration, which impacts their ability to manage their teams effectively.
How can leaders help managers?
Develop a wellbeing support system – With high demand for managers to support their teams, it is crucial organisations have measures in place. For instance, what procedure does a manager follow when an employee asks for help? What resources do you have in place if a manager feels overwhelmed or unable to give an employee the support they need? How can your organisation care for both employees and managers?
Prioritise inclusion – Research shows women leaders do more to support employee well-being than men. This likely explains why women are more at risk of workplace burnout and stress. Leaders must ensure all managers follow the same employee protocols. Frequently check in with managers to ensure staff receive the same level of support.
Train managers to meet the new demands – Employees now expect more from their companies. From Prioritising wellness, stronger DE&I, increased recognition, to work that feels meaningful. Most of these expectations have fallen on managers to handle, but many have not received sufficient training. Work with managers to create a training plan with measurable outcomes. This could include coaching or mentoring from senior leadership.
Bring in a facilitator – If an organisation feels its managers are not performing as expected, or if they notice a low manager retention rate, an external facilitator can help. External facilitators are trained to spot hidden issues and recognise underlying obstacles faster than internal facilitators. An outside voice can guide a team without bias or preconceptions, and facilitated meetings are invariably far more effective and efficient, particularly given the amount of time and resource that is invested in bringing people together.
Adopt a supportive leadership style – Give managers the confidence and trust to speak up and share their concerns without retribution. Leaders are often in a constant doing mode where each day, they must complete set tasks before moving on to the next. Taking the time to pause, reflect and listen can help you understand how company culture and leadership negatively affect managers.
Improve your own self-awareness – Our CEO, Thom Dennis, fundamentally believes self-awareness is the most important skill for future leadership. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as well as your needs and purpose will help you break through personal limitations and adapt your behaviour to overcome problems. Managers need self-aware leaders who inspire and motivate them to reach their goals, and role-model how to navigate uncertainty.
Provide clear guidelines – Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and fear of failure. Also, navigating vague policies decreases manager productivity which may increase stress and negatively affect the bottom line. Remove unnecessary confusion with straightforward policies that clearly explain the procedures around performance reviews, hiring, promotions and firing.
If you are a manager or leader struggling to cope, we are here to help. Our executive coaching is tailored to suit your unique needs and circumstances. We can provide you with tools, techniques and strategies to help you become more confident and effective in your role.