“There are so many things to do, I just can’t get to it all!”

“Sorry, I know that needed attention but I’m just too busy!!”

These are very common remarks from managers, especially junior team leads. If you hear these uttered rarely, at times of crunch, it’s ok. But, if those are being chanted over and over, the chorus of every status meeting, then you should intervene.

A manager that is always overwhelmed is a manager that never has the time to manage. You can’t be rushing from fire to fire and still keep your eyes up for the outlook and vision successful management requires (at least, most can’t and if they can they’re not likely to be in this situation).

This is usually a sign of a manager that doesn’t know how to push back on impossible deadlines, isn’t capable of delegating enough work to the team, and similar Management 101 scenarios.

In your next 1-on-1 (which is soon, right?) you should trigger the process of realizing the cause for this constant state, what can be done to improve it, and how soon. You shouldn’t, usually, decide this for them. In true coaching fashion, you should help them be aware of it, and formalize what they want and how they can best get there.

Overwhelm is not a good state to be in, and if your people are constantly feeling overwhelmed you can be certain that they’re not putting out their best work. That’s because our brains aren’t wired that way–if we’re stressed, the most creative parts in the brain shut down.

Guide your people towards the right direction. That’s your job!