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Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Harvard Business Review: How to Tell Your Boss You’re Burned Out

Read How to Tell Your Boss You’re Burned Out by Ron Carucci, from Harvard Business Review, January 5, 2021.

I have been in this situation before. Arriving at work, already on the verge of tears, hoping that you don’t get another email adding one more thing to your plate. Anxiously attending meetings, hoping that you aren’t asked to do more than the minimum. Watching your colleagues to see if anyone is feeling the same way you are, so you know that everyone is overwhelmed and not just you.

During the pandemic, these feelings among others have increased in workers forced to work in an increasingly challenging time. The article highlights a survey from the Society of HR Managers, which shared that 41% of workers “feel burned out due to factors like working remotely, working longer hours, juggling family demands, threatened job security, and fear of unsafe working environments. These have led to chronic feelings of sadness and anxiety, a lack of motivation, and an inability to concentrate.”

The author, Ron Carucci, suggests that if you’re feeling this way, you are not alone. He says, “The first thing to do is stop denying that it’s a problem. Your boss is in a unique position to help, and as uncomfortable as it might feel given the disproportionate influence they have over your work life, it’s critical that you tell them. Here are some ways to prepare for that conversation.” He also offers the following suggestions:

Confront your flawed “help narrative.” 

“Admitting the need for help is a struggle for many professionals. For especially accomplished people who are used to being asked for help, being on the other side of the equation brings feelings of inadequacy, fears of being seen as weak or incapable, and concerns about being a burden to others. These fears are amplified when it comes to the risk of your boss thinking these things about you.”

Clarify what you’re experiencing. 

“Make sure your approach sets the stage for a productive conversation. It can be helpful to begin by acknowledging that this is hard for you: “You know I wouldn’t bring this up if I didn’t feel it was important,” or “I’m not used to asking for help, so this is difficult for me” can help your boss feel more empathy and therefore be more attuned to what you say.”

Take responsibility for your effect on others. 

“Things like the quality or timeliness of your work, team or personal relationships, or flagging demeanor have likely been visible messengers of your stress. Plan to acknowledge this in the conversation with your boss with a statement like, “Look, I know I haven’t been myself lately, and I’m sorry if that’s had any negative impact on you or the team.” Be very clear what you’re taking responsibility for. Don’t apologize for being burned out, but do take responsibility for letting its effects spill over onto your work or team. Evan’s boss genuinely appreciated his acknowledgment of the few deadlines he’d missed, which made his appeal more sympathetic.”

Start with a colleague or friend. 

“One of the dangerous byproducts of the pandemic is the increased isolation we feel from others. Social isolation intensifies burnout, because in the absence of sufficient community, most of the conversations we’re having about what we’re feeling are in our head. Unfortunately, these internal conversations tend to yield unreliable conclusions about ourselves, our boss, our job, and the world around us.”

Appeal, don’t complain. 

“Preparing for your conversation can ensure it doesn’t come across as venting — or worse, blaming. To a boss who isn’t naturally empathic, “I’m burned out” may unintentionally sound like “You’re burning me out.”

Take time to soul-search. 

“One of the dangerous aspects of burnout is the insidious way it distorts perspectives. You need time away to separate fact from fiction as you reflect. For some, the pandemic has caused burnout, whereas for others, it’s revealed burnout that was already there. Maybe you fell out of love with your job months or even years ago, but it took these extreme conditions for you to actually feel it.”

Don’t get complacent. 

“The relief you may feel from talking with your boss can provide a momentary increase in energy. During your time off, you may start getting better sleep and more exercise, and you might even sense the return of a more hopeful outlook. These early signals can tempt you to declare premature victory and start to blur the healthy boundaries you set, answering a few emails you don’t need to or “checking in” on projects your boss temporarily shifted to others.”

Continue reading How to Tell Your Boss You’re Burned Out by Ron Carucci, from Harvard Business Review, January 5, 2021.


NPR Higher Ed: Holding On Tight Is Easier Than Letting Go. Why We Need To Learn How To Do Both Well

Listen to Holding On Tight Is Easier Than Letting Go. Why We Need To Learn How To Do Both Well, from NPR Higher Ed Podcast, December 19, 2019.

This podcast is from a year ago, but I thought it appropriate after reading the above article. This podcast is from the NPR station in Austin, Texas and features Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and his thoughts on the need to learn to let go.

Whether the letting go is a project or product, or the idea of leaving a job, we can all use more skills in knowing when it’s time to move on.

Higher Ed: Holding On Tight Is Easier Than Letting Go. Why We Need To Learn How To Do Both Well. KUT » Higher Ed

  1. Higher Ed: Holding On Tight Is Easier Than Letting Go. Why We Need To Learn How To Do Both Well.
  2. Higher Ed: Learning From Failure (And Then Letting It Go)

My favorite part of the podcast: President Ed Burger – “In the middle of working on something, just stop and say right there and then, ‘whose job am I doing right now?’ And if it’s not your own, you should stop – if you want to embrace the art of letting go.” 

Continue listening to Holding On Tight Is Easier Than Letting Go. Why We Need To Learn How To Do Both Well, from NPR Higher Ed Podcast, December 19, 2019


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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