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Career Monday: Helpful Solutions for When Your Boss is Burned Out

Is it difficult to get your boss to pay attention to you these days? Maybe they’re taking long lunches and ducking calls from clients. Maybe you’re afraid to ask any questions because they’ve been extra critical lately.

This lack of enthusiasm could mean that your boss is burned out. It’s common these days. “Almost 96% of senior leaders reported feeling burned out on some level, and 33% said their condition was extreme,” according to a recent study by Harvard Medical School.

Before you hand in your resignation, try to address the situation. Consider these ideas for steps you can take to deal with a boss who may be exhausted and overwhelmed.

Steps to Take Yourself:

1. Practice self-care. Working in a tense environment can affect your health, so stick to a lifestyle that will keep you strong and fit. Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Manage stress and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

2. Have fun. Studies show that burnout can be highly contagious. Boost your spirits by looking on the bright side and finding opportunities to laugh. It also helps to engage in activities that engage your creativity.

3. Consult your colleagues. Find out what your coworkers are thinking. You may be able to work together to share support and make the atmosphere more pleasant.

4. Find a mentor. If your boss is distancing themselves at least temporarily, you may want to look for other sources of mentoring and coaching. Look through your network for contacts you admire. Make new connections through social media and industry events.

5. Explore other resources. What if the situation is more than you and your coworkers can handle? Research your options. You may want to ask your HR department to intervene or you may want to talk with a professional therapist.

Steps To Take With Your Boss:

1. Examine the causes. The symptoms of burnout can be easily confused with other issues like routine job stress or an upsetting event like divorce. Even if burnout is involved, your response may vary depending on whether the issues are related to business or your boss’s personality.

2. Talk it over. Your relationship and level of trust will determine what kind of conversation to have with your boss. If you’re close, maybe they’ll be open to candid feedback. If you’re less familiar with each other, you can still discuss specific behaviors and changes you need to help you do your job well.

3. Listen closely. Remember that your boss is human. Just helping them to feel understood may lead to greater harmony. You’ll gain more insights into what’s happening and how to deal with it.

4. Provide validation. Even if you and your boss disagree, you can still show them that you care about their feelings and experiences. Let them know that you recognize and accept their emotions.

5. Be kind. Your boss may appreciate thoughtful gestures. Offer to bring them back a cup of coffee when you’re making or buying one for yourself. Compliment them on their new haircut.

6. Take initiative. On a practical level, your boss may need someone to take over some of their usual responsibilities. Assess the current workload and make specific suggestions about where you can pitch in.

7. Set boundaries. At the same time, you need to protect your own health and career. Honor your limits to avoid putting yourself at risk for burnout too.

You may be able to adapt while your boss resolves their situation, or you may need to move on if your working conditions start having a negative effect on your overall wellbeing. Staying positive and keeping up with your responsibilities will help you to support your boss and keep your career on track.

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