Interpersonal Edge: Work to Fix Workplace Burnout

Dr. Daneen Skube, executive coach and therapist, discusses why a manager should work to fix workplace burnout, including the importance of the response for the team. She also recommends a way to escape a co-worker’s monologue.

Q: I’m burned out at work and would like to take a week of vacation but I’m afraid my department will fall apart while I am gone. How do you recommend your clients think about how and when to take breaks from work? How do I effectively balance the needs of my team with my own needs?

A: The way you balance the needs of your team with your personal needs is to follow the same advice they give on airplanes about oxygen masks. Put on your own oxygen mask on before attending to anyone else. The bottom line is you’re no good at work when you have nothing left in your tank.

Many professionals believe that being a martyr is the same as being loyal and this is not true. Dragging yourself to work, stumbling through your day, and working late just means you’re contributing little to your team and sacrificing too much of yourself.

You cannot truly know what others actually need since you are not inside their heads. On a good day you can be aware of what you need and address that. If you really want to make a contribution at work make sure you get enough sleep, are physically well, and take the breaks you need to recharge your batteries.

Productivity and creativity experts tell us the times when our brains lie fallow are crucial to effectiveness. Staring at the same problem with exhausted eyes will yield you no breakthroughs.

Managing your guilt when you take breaks during hectic times is another complicated manner. I know you realize your boss will not pay you extra for your first heart attack. However, some employees think that is what is expected of them. If you feel that your presence is the difference between workplace functioning and workplace disaster you really do need a vacation.

When you are gone people have a chance to see what you do and appreciate you more. Your co-workers will also get a chance to learn to fix problems that you typically handle. You avoid that first heart attack and actually have the energy to be helpful when you return.

Be a role model for balancing wellness and productivity. The price you will have to pay to be awakened about your well-being will be guilt. Be aware you will over time get over guilt but no one gets over chronic self-sacrifice.

Also be aware the more exhausted you become the harder it will be to get above the water line with your health. Instead do the least you can do to put energy back in your bucket at the earliest moment you notice your fatigue.

The last word(s)

Q: I have a co-worker that gets into long monologues and I cannot escape. Is there any easy way to get away when she never stops talking?

A: Yes, interrupt her, do a concise paraphrase, and make any reasonable excuse to exit. She will feel heard, and you will stop wasting your precious time.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist, and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. (Sorry, no personal replies.)

© 2021 Interpersonal Edge. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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