Dealing with employees who don’t realize or don’t want to realize that they are burning out.

I’ve been mentioning in the past companies that don’t do much regarding their employees who burnout. But there are some managers, line-managers and HR folks who care. Lately I’ve been approached by line-managers and HR folks asking me how do deal with the following situation:

Line-Manager:

Hi Andy, I have an employee in my team who isn’t performing as he used to. He isn’t able to focus and is very easily irritated or grumpy. Could he be burning out?

Now with this info only and from afar I can’t judge really, but it could be that this employee is burning out. In an ideal scenario, I would have met this employee to better judge the situation. But as a line manager you can go up to an employee and say, I know now a burnout expert & I think you should talk to him.

HR-Manager:

Hi Andy, we have an employee who used to be able to manage several projects and was always super energetic. Now he seems to struggle with simple tasks and even fell asleep in a meeting. We had a conversation and he insists everything is ok and was offended when we suggested to re-allocate some of his projects. He feels essential to all the projects and refused any help.

Also here, without speaking to the person I can’t judge from afar.

In both cases I think the most important aspect is that the manager provides support and gives the employee the feeling that they are in a safe environment. Provide constructive feedback that clearly shows you support your employee, but also highlights what is different from before in terms of performance with specific examples. Then discuss solutions like reducing the number of projects the employee is working on, flexible working times, delegation or maybe a training, but obviously don’t overwhelm your employee even more.