Are You the Cause of Employee Burnout?

BY Kathy Crosett
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We talk a lot on this blog about ways to make your team members accountable. When employees are accountable, they’re productive and engaged. They're less likely to experience burnout. But what about managers and their accountability? Joel Carnevale has researched this topic as part of his work at Syracuse University. Here’s what he discovered.

Fear of Being Blamed

Your job as manager is to develop your team members and help them achieve the goals you’ve set together. That task sounds simple. In reality, managers often bring a lot of excess baggage to the job. And when they unpack their emotional issues in the workplace, they stress out their employees. 

If you got chewed out by senior leadership for missing a deadline, your employees don’t need to hear about it. The longer you complain about what happened, the more they’ll worry. Instead of getting to work, they’ll be obsessing over whether you threw them under the bus to save your own career.

Catering to the Manager’s Ego 

Some managers expect their team members to operate as a cheering squad. They might come into the office and complain about their family members. Then they look for support from their employees. During a one-​on-​one meeting, they might talk about the divorce they are going through. Or, these egocentric managers might expect their employees to praise the work they’ve just completed on a big project. 

The result is that employees begin to fear the ‘emotional vampire’ in the office. They can’t get their questions answered. When the manager goes down a rabbit hole, the employee has little choice but to follow. In the end, they’re too drained to work efficiently.

The Solution

If you have a tendency to overshare with your team, step back and consider the situation. Sure, it might be exciting to know your team members support you against the evildoer in another department. But how are your tirades helping folks get their work done? Keep your personal problems to yourself. During your one-​on-​ones, put yourself on the back burner. Give your employee a chance to talk about what’s on their mind, listen carefully, and offer suggestions that don’t involve demonstrating how skilled or awesome you are.