Product Managers - Are you burnt out?

For my fellow Product Managers (people in product in any variety, really), I'm doing a little research on the mental health of folks in the product field and want your honest take: Would you consider yourself to be burnt out?

If the answer is yes, I'd love it if you would be willing to share your comments on what contributing factors you think have led to that.

Only for PMs? haha I know you need to focus but let me know if you expand to other profiles haha
I recognize a lot of roles are burnt out. But hoping to get at the nuance of the responsibilities Product Managers bear. What other roles were you hoping to discuss?
That makes sense! And no roles in particular, I was thinking of the topic of being burnout as a human
Totally!! That struggle is real!
Tagged our Product communities for you! :)
Amazing! Thank you!
I'm not burnt out anymore but I'd love to chat on the topic as a PM!
Also interested in how you’re not burnt out anymore! I think many struggle to get out of it.
I invested a lot into support systems including therapy and some coaching. I also channeled my energies into journaling to help me manage my narrative around the situations that would often cause me strife. While this doesn't solve for a toxic environment, it did help me establish a healthier perspective on playing the game that often times is work. I still work full time as a director of product but launched a passion project, a journal+workbook hybrid, that helped me manage my emotions. If you're curious you can check it out at I usually pick it up when I'm having a tough situation as I said and I really found that refraining my thoughts helped me keep healthier boundaries. The last thing I'd say is I am clear with people about expectations and sometimes I do let the less important stuff burn because we can't do it all.
@abipereira this was the post, had no idea you were the author, thanks again for the chat!
Hi, I’m curious how it’s going with the workmood journal. Would you be open to sharing your experience starting this?
Hi - definitely. DM me and we can set up a time to chat!
This is an amazing strategy 👏🏼
It depends on the week! But yes, I definitelysuffer from burnout. A couple reasons:Average of 5 hours of video calls per day (this is the big one!) Navigating and managing a ton of internal feedback Context switching between big picture and the smallest detail Managing non tech expectations on timelines and what will be accomplished in one feature
Yes yes yes to all of this! Amount of meetings and context switching in particular resonate with me. Depending on the organization many PMs are expected to wear multiple hats when specific roles don’t exist (data analyst, UX, operations, scrummaster) which makes context switching the norm even from meeting to meeting.
Yes, incredibly burnt out! And honestly, suffering from a bit of PM PTSD as well, to the point that I'm actively avoiding PM jobs that I know I'm super qualified for in favor of something else product-related.Reasons/Factors:- Lots of pressure put on all decisions I make (financial outcomes, use of precious resources, etc)- Constantly disappointing/frustrating at least 1 stakeholder with every decision and priority I have to make (because there are never enough resources/justification/time/budget to do everything that everyone wants at the same time or enough data to validate the priority, but people don't like that and only hear "no" or "sorry not now")- Rarely getting recognition for successes (always have to move on to the next thing immediately, stakeholders are always waiting for their next initiative to be worked on)- Having to defend and justify every decision to everyone, and constantly negotiate with various stakeholders that have polar-opposite perspectives/needs is mentally + emotionally exhausting- So. Many. Meetings.
Appreciate this thoughtful response! I feel you on all of this! I totally agree on the mental and emotional toll this role takes. Especially since we’re not only responsible for communicating and convincing stakeholders but have to then motivate a team around the decisions made by said stakeholders. It feels like you’re often disappointing one of them. Interested in hearing more about what you’re actively trying to avoid in other roles as a result.
Thanks! Glad I'm not crazy :) I'm a very rewards-oriented person, so disappointing/frustrating people constantly (whether members of my team or stakeholders throughout the company) as a result of my decisions is a particularly tough part of the job for me...Lately I've been focusing on roles that are product-involved, but don't hold as much weight on my decisions as PM work does. For example, I've been focusing on Product Ops roles because there's still a lot of interesting work and conversations had about optimizing and focusing product + feature development efforts, but I don't have to bear the weight of successful revenue metrics or incorporating so many stakeholders' needs/wants into my decision-making process (but instead working on gathering that info efficiently for the PMs). The sphere of influence is still there - looking at data and posing recommendations, reviewing agile processes with the team and recommending improvements, coordinating with stakeholders for release plans, etc - but there's seemingly more of a buffer away from full responsibility and backlash of decisions as opposed to when being a PM.Any job postings that have "you'll have full ownership/responsibility over" or "we're looking for mini-CEOs" currently has me sweating with anxiety and running for the hills lol. Maybe I'll come back to it some day in the future, but for now I need some time away from having to be the executive decision-maker for everything and then getting reamed for it when people don't agree or like those decisions.
Hi laylalynn! I am in a similar position and am thinking of product ops as the next role too. Would you be open to connecting with me?
This is so so so true. PMs getting over-whelmed. I have been in the PM / Cofounder (Product) role for the last 3.5 years and it is quite tiring at times. :) Precisely the reason why I am looking for a change now.
It's an important topic since any managerial work both causes and suffers from burn outs. At the moment, no. But I happened to feel this way several times being a PM. I could name following factors contributing my burn outs in the past:- loss of contact with my team member/s. E.g. when they experienced some difficulties in their private life and it affected their motivation/efficiency but they rejected to talk about that. So, it was highly challenging to balance an empathy and responsibility for the whole team's performance. - lack of transparency from top management (business owners). E.g. it was very stressful when one day top managers asked PMs to fire some team members because of "unexpected" business changes. Not because of bad performance/KPIs etc.
Oof yes. The indirect people management is some of the toughest part of the role. Keep your team happy but with expectations consistency and high performance isn’t realistic. Glad to hear you’re no longer experiencing burn out!
I totally used to be- but then I realized two things that have changed my perspective: 1. If I’m burned out, it means I care too much. 2. There’s courage in being average. After realizing both of those things, I’ve found I can better disconnect from my work
I love this. There is courage in being average is so important. Especially when you value life outside of work above work.
Not feeling burnt out at the moment, but I'm definitely someone who's prone to burning themselves out. I work for a start-up (under 30 people)! Personal factors—I'm always monitoring these things:- Having perfectionistic tendencies- Taking initiative- Having a "do whatever it takes to succeed" attitude- Being introverted- Tendency to have anxious and/or depressive thoughts- Fear of failing/messing up in a way that's incorrigible Job/role factors:- Frequent context-switching- Lots of video calls & meetings/discussions- Taking on whatever my DevOps team doesn't have the capacity to handle (those "important, not urgent" tasks that tend to get left behind) What helps me: - Having a sense of purpose in my role and within my organization - Having a supportive team, direct supervisor, and skip-level manager - Being able to bring a lot of my full self at work; not needing to wear a mask - Having a supportive significant other who reminds me that I'm a badass - Self-awareness and mindfulness - Working out 4-5x every week- Taking short breaks throughout the work day to get up and stretch Not exactly what you were looking for, but I hope this helps. Happy to chat more about anything I mentioned, too! :)
Taking on what no one else has time for resonates with me. It’s like others can say no to PMs but we don’t always have the same option. Really appreciate you mentioning what helps! I think a lot of it is cultural shifts that need to happen.
Yes, the strong sense of ownership definitely comes inherently with the role. I'm really fortunate in the sense that my team will pick up on when I am more anxious than usual; I also feel comfortable telling them, "Hey, I'm feeling more tired than usual; I'm gonna avoid making any key decisions today, unless absolutely necessary." My supervisor and skip-level are also direct in reminding me if I need to take some a pause or even a nap throughout the day, to do so and not burn myself out. I wish you success, and feel free to DM me if you'd like to chat more on the topic. :)
Yes so burnt out right now, which is I why I clicked in to see what other people are saying! My burnout is a result of both personal and professional factors -Personal- Long distance relationship with my husband. We are in different countries with a 13 hour time difference.- Ruminating next steps in life and in career like moving countries, switching jobs which is stressful- So burnt out from work, I often don't have the energy to cook healthy food, workout etc which turns into a vicious cycle.Work- Working a different time zone. I am in PST but have to work CT hours which means I practically have no morning routine. I have to jump off my bed and start working- I work for a startup (80ish people) and we have 2 PMs (including me) handling 4 product lines each. I am scatterbrained from leading too many products/initiatives. - Too much context switching between products as well as type of PM work - creating strategy & roadmap, setting OKRs to wireframing, design review, sprint planning- Perfectionism is an issue too. I have so many deliverables in any given week, I feel dissatisfied on not having gotten to all of them or not having done something thoroughly which seeps into my personal life as well.- Soo many meetings as others have echoed - internal and client meetings. - Constant Slack pings and need to respond to threads.- Most importantly, I am losing interest in the mission, vision and the products I am working on.
Long distance relationships are rough! I can’t imagine that on top of all the other stressors.Your work struggles sound so much like mine too. I’m at an org about the same size, very few PMs, managing too many products, context switching, expectations of responding to comms quickly when you’re in meetings all day. Thanks so much for sharing. Hoping for less stressful days for you personally and professionally.
I'm constantly monitoring for signs of burnout in myself because it's very easy as a PM to fall down that well. We're often juggling impossible expectations and taking the brunt of people's emotional responses when those expectations are inevitably not met. There's only so much of having people unload on you that can take and some weeks are worse than others. It's a thankless job and you often are faced with others who aren't afraid to let you know that they think they can do your job better than you and they constantly disrupt but don't want take the responsibility and accountability for their decision-making. As a PM you feel responsible if anything that halts forward momentum and these days, working remotely, people are more emotional, less present and less bonded, so there are plenty of things well outside your sphere of influence that halt forward momentum. So why do I do this job? Because when it's good, it's really worth it. When you find a supportive team that clicks and you get into a predictable rhythm of work and start delivering things that delight people, then it all suddenly seems worthwhile. Bottom line, the burnout results from other people not understanding or empathizing with PMs and from people acting in a dehumanizing manner towards you and their colleagues. I'd love to hear what the results of your research!
Yesssss! The funny thing is I just took a day off this week to rest, but I don't think it was enough. In my case, our Product team has been overrun with projects and not enough PMs. We're all stretched too thin and leadership keeps piling on new little side quests to complete. It's neverending.It's also a personal issue. I haven't taken a real vacation since the pandemic started and, in general, have been less social and I think it's catching up. I need to re-introduce the activities that refuel me in my downtime.