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Project Managers: How To Avoid Workplace Burnout

Ensuring the success of a project is no longer about pushing employees to suffer through long painful hours. Research has shown that it's more important for project managers to focus on recognizing the early signs of burnout, for them to learn the tools that will lead a team out of a spiraling funk, and to routinely monitor their own personal fatigue. If a project manager or team member experiences burnout, it must be properly managed. Otherwise it's likely to spread throughout the team and lead to the failure of the assigned task. 


(1) Let your team know they can talk to you. 

There is a strong stigma attached to burnout at work. Team members may fear informing their boss about their fatigue due to not wanting to appear “weak”. It is important that employees feel safe in knowing that it takes more strength and courage to admit their truth, so that it can be dealt with proactively before it seriously affects their work. As a manager, it’s vital that your team know they can come to you if they’re feeling strained so that you can work out the best solution for both them and the project.

(2) Break down large assignments into smaller tasks. 

Completing large projects can lead to project burnout. Instead, you might break down large tasks into smaller milestones with specific dates. To ensure the project remains on track, it is a great idea to define project goals, assign tasks to others, and to prioritize important dates. 

(3) Support your team. 

Some business owners may argue that a high employee turnover rate or a lack of retention is simply a byproduct of expansion. They may argue that individuals who departed were unsuitable for the company’s future direction. However, I feel this is untrue. 

You hire an employee because you determine that they are the right person for the job. If burnout settles in, this is not the time to give up on them. You could better lead your team by acting as their voice of reason when they are exhausted, while also sorting-out confused expectations. Supporting your team can go a long way in relationship building and will greatly reduce burnout.

(4) Watch for warning signs of emotional exhaustion.

Project managers should pay close attention to the well-being of their teams. After all, they’re responsible for setting the mood and tone of the work environment. Some of the biggest warning signs of emotional exhaustion are decreased productivity, lowered performance, higher sensitivity to feedback, and disengagement in team activities.


Remember that a successful team is only as strong as its weakest link. If a project manager fails to have the foresight and temperament to lead their group away from burnout, it is time to step back and learn more team building skills. A project manager that can avoid burnout is more likely to have successful projects and to propel their team into new heights.


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