Welcome to Overcoming Burnout, part three! We’re almost at the end of this series, so if you’ve been feeling burnt out, I hope these posts have been helpful in navigating the recovery process. At this point, I hope you’ve had an opportunity to take some time off and search within yourself to figure out what you really want. In this post, I’m sharing how to talk to your boss about burnout and my four tips for navigating the conversation.
Yes, it’s scary and can be an awkward conversation. I get it! I hate feeling vulnerable and talking about feelings. But unless you’re planning on ghosting your employer like a bad Tinder date (which I don’t recommend), you have to talk to your boss about burnout. In my opinion, if there’s even a small possibility of you being happy again where you currently work, you owe yourself and your current employer a chance to work through your burnout with you before you look elsewhere. I had a great experience with my boss and my agency’s leadership when I started broaching the subject of burnout, and I’m excited to share what I learned with you.
1. Find the Right Forum
If you have a regularly scheduled one-on-one, that’s a great opportunity to talk to your boss about burnout. If you don’t have a regular check-in already on the calendar, then you need to schedule a meeting for this conversation. This isn’t something you can just casually mention as you swing by their office on your way out to happy hour. Mic drops don’t really go over well in this situation.
You want your boss to pay attention to you and what you have to say, right? Give this conversation the forum it deserves and schedule a separate meeting if you need to. You don’t need to put “Talk about my burnout” in the subject line of your meeting invite. Just call it a check-in or a one-on-one, and preface the meeting agenda with something along the lines of “I’d like to discuss how I’m doing and some ideas I have about my path forward.”
2. Outline Your Talking Points
When we’re nervous or our emotions are running high, we get frazzled and aren’t always the best communicators. If you’re like me, you’ll leave out key points and then fixate on what you should have said over and over in your head — which is zero fun.
Remember that gameplan we mapped out when we were being honest with ourselves? Reference that as you outline your talking points! I think opening the conversation is the hardest/most awkward part, so here’s an opening line you can use, along with some examples of supporting talking points to get your thoughts flowing:
“I wanted to talk to you because I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out lately; but I have some ideas on how I can overcome it that I’d like to talk through together.”
Then follow with:
- “I’m feeling burnt out because…”
- “As a solution, I’d like to explore…” or “I’d be interested in trying…”
- “I’d really like to work this out. Do you think….might be a possibility?”
3. Be Direct
Don’t sugar coat how you’re feeling. This is your opportunity to talk about YOU – don’t let it get away because you’re too nervous or scared to lay it all out on the table. That doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive about it; just be honest about what’s bothering you and what you envision as a potential solution. The purpose of this conversation is to figure out how to best move forward. Your boss can’t help you with that if you beat around the bush.
4. Focus on Solutions
When talking to your boss about burnout (or any problem, really), you need to be solution oriented. You can’t just drop the burnout bomb and expect them to come up with a solution for you. The whole point of the conversation is to discuss a path forward that helps alleviate your burnout. Key words here are “your burnout.” You have to be the one who drives these solutions forward because you are in the driver’s seat of your career. No one else is driving this shiny little car but you!
Coming to the table to share a problem and discuss a solution you’ve already thought through is an entirely different conversation than sharing a problem without your point of view on a solution attached to it. In your boss’s eyes, the latter seems like you’re dropping a problem in their lap and expect the mess to be cleaned up for you. And that’s not a good look.
There you have it. Not that scary, right? So go ahead and schedule that meeting and start prepping for the conversation with your boss. Then plan out your favorite Boss Babe outfit so you go in feeling your best and come out with a greenlit path forward.
If you have any questions on how to talk to your boss about burnout, don’t hesitate to let me know. That’s what I’m here for, and I’d love to hear from you!