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As a manager, do you ever feel like you are sitting right in the midpoint of an egg timer?   You have pressure bearing down on you from your senior leaders, and you feel the demands from your team below? 

This pressure from above and below can put one big squeeze on your wellbeing. 

Gallup surveys show that burnout among managers increased by 25% in 2021.

All the while, managers are increasingly being asked to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their teams.

There’s never been a more critical time for workplaces to develop managers’ wellbeing capability so you can:

  1. Put on your own oxygen mask first.  Read about three keys to managers’ wellbeing below.
  2. Receive training in how to support the wellbeing of your team.   Increasing your skills in this area can take stress out of it. Please get in touch if you’d like more information about the training program I run for managers in having Wellbeing Conversations at Work.



1 a) Attitudes to Self-Care

If you struggle to prioritise your own wellbeing because you think it’s selfish to attend to your own needs before that of your team, see if this reframe helps.

Self-care has nothing to do with being selfish. In fact you could say not taking care of yourself is selfish, because without self-care you become depleted. This affects the quality of your work and your mood, which impacts those around us.  It’s not much fun being around stressed, irritable, tense people.  And if you neglect your own needs to the point of burnout, then someone else will need to step in to pick up the  pieces.  

REFRAME: When you take care of yourself, you also take care of those around you.

Putting on your own oxygen mask first, keeps you alive so you are able  to help others.

REPLACE: Self-care = Selfish WITH : Self-Care = Other Care


2 a) Being Responsive vs Over-responsible

Managing people is not an easy gig!  There will be times when you have really challenging people to manage – that may be due to their personality or the fact that they are going through a difficult life stage.

Clarifying what you are responsible for and what you are not, is critical to your wellbeing, otherwise you’ll take on problems that aren’t yours and you’ll end up exhausted.

It is not a manager’s job to solve every problem for the team, or to be wholly responsible for an individual employee’s wellbeing.  If a team member is struggling, what you can do is:

  • Demonstrate you care, by asking how they are coping. If a team member feels heard and understood by you, that is therapeutic, whether or not you solve the issue. 
  • Ask the person questions so he or she can identify some options for action.
  • Keep asking ‘what do you need?’  Respond where you can. If you can’t meet a certain request, explain why.    

If you encounter a situation where you are not sure where the lines of responsibility begin and end, book a session with your EAP provider service. They often have a dedicated service for managers.

2 b) Autonomy vs Micro-managing

When managing a team remotely, you can’t see what your team is doing. This may trigger in you the urge to micro-manage.  Micro-managing is not a manager’s job  – it’ll take up too much of your time and research shows it diminishes home workers’ wellbeing. 

Resist the urge, and instead ensure you have good objective measures in place  to track staff progress, so you can step back and let the person get on with the job, with some checks and balances in place

2 c) Outside Support

Perspective and insight from someone outside your work team is invaluable. Do you have a mentor, friend, former colleague or someone from another department or section with whom you can debrief,  brainstorm solutions to management challenges or act a sounding board?  If not, actively seek out someone who fits this bill – this is an essential element of your wellbeing strategy.


Of all the practices and skills you can develop to help maintain your wellbeing on the job, my top pick is: 

Get really good at LISTENING TO YOUR BODY, sooner rather than later.

This helps you  live each day in balance, and prevent the development of health problems longer term.

Every day, hour and moment, we receive signals from the body that help to correct and protect our health: the tight neck, which if attended to with regular stretches and short breaks, can help prevent more serious neck problems; the hunger, which if satiated soon, will stop you from being an all-night pantry man when you finally do eat; the yawn in front of your screen-of-choice, telling you it’s time to prepare for bed.

The problem is, all the demands of being a manager can keep your attention outside of yourself, so you may not even notice these cues, or take them seriously – until it is too late. 

Think of the small signals, the early symptoms as messengers alerting you to forthcoming danger.  Every case of burnout starts as ongoing tiredness, every case of RSI starts with a niggle.

ACTION: If you want to get better at listening to your body:

  • Take the Body Intelligence quiz here to assess your BQ and get some tips for improving it.
  • Schedule a body scan or simply pause a few times a day to check-in with your body – what sensations or symptoms do you notice? 
  • Here are 10 ways you can listen to your body. Select just one body signal that you don’t normally pay much attention to, and practise responding sooner, rather than later. Feeling thirsty? Drink water now.  Energy slumping? Take a short walk.  Feel a little stiff? Adjust your posture. 

Listening to the small talk of your body, is one of the best things you can do, to set yourself up for a sustainable career.  

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