Economics/Class Relations

Your manager is burnt out

September 16, 2023 • 4 min read
with Diamond Naga Siu
Welcome to the weekend, friends! I’m hoping to play a bit of pickleball now that the weather is cooling down. If you’re interested in trying it out or are just starting, a professional player revealed what new players should know before hitting the courts.


I find sports a nice way to relieve stress, a realization I came to amid increased conversations about preventing burning out. But something less talked about is burnout among managers — that’s our big story today. 

What’s on deck:
But first, how are you doing?


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The big story
Burnout from above

Managers are pretty burnt out right now.


They’re looking for new jobs more than non-managers are — and promotions won’t even keep them around. The extra responsibility can actually increase the chance of a manager bouncing.


“What burnout does is it impacts your higher mental functions initially,” Amit Sood, known as the “Happiness Doctor,” told me. “It impacts your attention, impacts your judgment, impacts your memory, impacts your decision-making ability. It impacts engagement, it produces fatigue, and it decreases your compassion for others.”


This leaves their direct reports in a lurch, since managers have such a large impact on someone’s role: workflows, productivity, support, growth, and more. Bonita Eby, a burnout prevention consultant, told me that’s why it’s important to remove the taboo — including for managers — of saying “I need help.”


I spoke with multiple experts about signs that your manager is burnt out:

  • Fear. “We often see that when people are going through burnout, they become fearful, because they’re experiencing such vast amounts of stress,” Eby said. Fear, stress, and anxiety all go through the same nervous pathway, she said, so a burnt-out manager could be working in survival mode.
  • Disengagement. Sood said this can manifest in a variety of ways: silly errors, delayed or incomplete responses, irritability, or missing meetings.
  • Creating conflict. When people are experiencing burn out, Eby told me they can begin to create conflicts. In a manager, this can look like inappropriate language or off-colored jokes, which can put employees in a scary and uncomfortable position.
  • Disconnect from goals. “The manager’s goals and the staff goals don’t meet in the middle, and it’s reflective in the inefficiency that gets built into a day’s work,” Eufrosina Young, a board-certified neurologist, told me. She added that everything a manager does has the potential to be magnified. So tension can start to build up, especially when focus is lost.
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Recognizing that your manager is burnt out is only the first step. Doing something about it as a direct report is tricky, since addressing burnout is normally a top-down action.


The experts I spoke to recommended talking with others who could help: your peers, human resources, or even other managers.


“It’s important to realize that every manager has a manager,” Sood said. “And sometimes in order to help them, you may have to alert somebody more — somebody up the flagpole — to let them know that you think this person is struggling.

Read the full story
3 things in
Kelsey Vlamis; Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images
1. “I did US Customs and Border Protection’s Preclearance.” The program lets travelers flying through certain international locations go through customs before boarding the plane. So when travelers land from abroad, the experience is just like a domestic flight.


2.  Private guides > group tours. Despite the hefty price tag, it meant the difference between being a tourist and being a traveler. The tour was customizable and way less stressful than shuffling a big group of people around.


3.  Destigmatizing the “Disney adult.” Millennials and Gen Zers with money to burn — and no kids — are flocking to Disney parks. They’re part of an undeniable demographic shift that could have major impacts on Disney’s parks business.

3 things in
Jordan Hart/Insider
1. Fishnets. Eyeliner. White face paint. The “corporate goths” are headed to work. Many Gen Z workers aren’t afraid to express themselves. Multiple “corporate goths” spoke with Insider about the importance of being true to themselves, even in the office.


2. The controversial “coffee cup test” for hiring. An executive revealed he only hires people if they offer to take their coffee cups to the kitchen at the end of the interview. One critic of this method called it a “deeply disturbing psycho-social game.”


3. Good grades and top honors don’t cut it anymore — it’s all about the internship. A “warrior intern” is someone who’s spent every summer polishing their resume in the hopes of clinching their dream job. Internships are becoming increasingly competitive with acceptance rates as low as 1%.

3 things in
1. The 20 happiest US states. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Hawaii are among the top. The states were ranked based on 30 metrics, including unemployment rates, mental health, and commute times.


2. Gen Zers in Georgia are losing their accents. Their speech patterns are now more similar to “California English” than the English their grandparents spoke. Researchers say it’s likely due to migration patterns.


3. The updated COVID-19 vaccine should be available at your local pharmacy. It protects against the most common strains currently spreading. Plus, most people should still be able to get it for free.


In other news


Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV
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The Insider Today team

Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.


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