Today, the front door of brands is their social media profiles – and you, the social media manager, are the gatekeepers. This is no easy task.
Building an impressive, holistic social presence takes time, research, creativity, and constant innovation. On top of that, you’re full of unexpected crises, emotionally charged consumer messages, and constant changes in social media trends. And you can’t just sign off or take a social media detox when the work gets overwhelming. This constant balancing act can lead to burnout.
But I don’t need to tell you this. You are a social media manager in 2020 – you already know what that feels like.
I’m here to tell you that feeling burnt out doesn’t mean you’re unable to do your job. This means that you will have to ask for help and have a conversation with your supervisor. In this article, we’ll explore ways to have an effective conversation about burnout with your boss, and we’ll provide specific pointers to help you get started.
don’t suffer in silence
Your boss has a lot of things competing for his attention, so he might not know you’re struggling until you talk. And while starting a conversation can be intimidating, building up a rapport with your supervisor and being honest about the challenges in your role can lead to a lot more.
Before I met other SMMs on Twitter—I felt like I was the only one facing burnout, fatigue, constant heaviness, and many more daily challenges.
Thanks everyone for sharing your stories here, behind the scenes + building a community that is transparent and helpful!
— jane (@jencrime) 12 August 2020
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, a conversation with your manager will help you challenge the assumptions you’re making about your role and responsibilities and bring to light any unseen expectations. For example, are you overscheduling yourself? Why do you feel the need to work to the point of burnout? Does your boss know you’re working late every night? Do they really expect you to be able to respond to messages quickly or is this an expectation you put on yourself? Highlight those answers so you can recalculate if necessary.
Most, if not all, managers themselves have gone through burnout. In that case, they will be sympathetic to your situation as well as offer advice on getting you back on track. Having loose conversations is also an opportunity to set new benchmarks with your manager, such as being transparent about your state of mind, feeling comfortable expressing detractors or even when you don’t have the bandwidth. Even then say no.
get the ball rolling
When you address burnout with your manager, you will need to get specific and provide context to help them understand what you are feeling. Here are some questions that can help you get to the root of the problem:
- What are your top priorities right now?
- What’s stopping you from focusing on bigger picture projects?
- What is the most mentally exhausting aspect of your job?
- What tools or resources do you need to do your job more effectively?
- How do existing processes or management styles contribute to burnout?
- Is Personal Stress Carrying Out at Work?
With an understanding of what challenge(s) you are trying to solve, you can initiate conversations with your boss more effectively.
When you’re ready to talk, it’s best to do it in person or via video call whenever possible, but getting it on your boss’s radar can start by email or in writing with Slack. . Here are some ways you can start it:
- I’ve been overwhelmed lately by the amount of messages being managed. Do you have time to talk about it this week?
- A lot of our recent projects have been really urgent. In our next one-on-one meeting, can we talk about top priorities?
- I’ve been under a lot of fire on social lately and it’s becoming untenable. Do you have time this week to talk about how we can get over crises?
Propose a solution and demonstrate your value
Approach your conversation with a few solutions in mind. Think about what would look “better” to you. Maybe there’s more time to focus on bigger picture projects, reducing after-hours work, new resources to manage your workload, or more open communication between you and your manager.
You’re not going to fix burnout in a single conversation, so start with a realistic and specific goal for your meeting. This will vary from person to person but here are some tips:
- Align on priorities and expectations
- implement a new or different process
- Determine where you need more support and identify teammates or external resources, such as temps or contractors, who can help
- Develop or rearrange schedules
- communicate barriers
Remember, the focus of your conversation should be on how your burnout affects not only you, but your team and business. You want to have a productive conversation, not a vent session. This is more likely to happen when you can show how burnout affects your productivity, focus on work, the rest of your team, and overall marketing goals.
For example, you might say, “I have been unable to contribute to the business from a strategy perspective because I am focused on executing and responding to inbound messages. Had I had more time, I could have brought really beneficial insights to the rest of the organization.” Showing how much influence you can make on top line goals will inevitably pique your boss’s interest and keep you from burnout. will invest in recovery.
While you should have an idea of what can fix the problems at hand, it’s not just you. Your supervisor can and should help solidify the proposed solutions. At the end of your conversation, repeat your action plan to your manager and clarify any remaining confusion or concerns.
follow and follow
Once you have implemented your agreed plan, be patient with yourself. Immediate relief is not guaranteed. When you feel like you have had enough time to assess how things are going, take time to reflect. What has changed since you talked to your boss? What’s working? What is not?
If you are still struggling after some time and the solutions you mentioned are not providing relief, don’t get discouraged, struggle or accept defeat. You’ve already taken that first step – make it a point to follow up with your manager, keep the conversation going and build on what was initially discussed. Together, you can decide how to change your original action plan if it hasn’t taken effect.
Finally, follow up, even if things seem to be working out! Your boss will want to know that you are feeling more productive, supported and revived.
get the support you deserve
Burnout is very real and widespread in the social media marketing community. Restoring balance in your work life can seem like a big task when you get burned out, but you don’t have to go it alone. Telling your boss about your struggles is the best way to be brave, adventurous, and back on track.
If you’re having these conversations and things don’t seem to be getting better, your boss isn’t as receptive as you expected, you don’t feel psychologically safe at work, or you need more mental health support, click here. There are some resources that can help:
Sprout can help reduce some of the stress by streamlining processes and increasing efficiency. Learn how here.