“They’re just not doing their job,” grumbled an executive in a group one of us (Amii) was recently facilitating. She was resentful over what she viewed as a lack of productivity on her team.

Being a leader has always been challenging, but manager stress and burnout is rising: A November 2021 Gallup survey found that 35% of people managers reported feeling burned out “very often or always,” as compared to 27% of individual contributors and 22% of leaders.

When it’s a constant mental strain to get the work done, managers may have a short fuse. When expectations aren’t met, the brain short-circuits to judgment and reaction.

This is exactly the opposite of what your employees need. In healthy workplace cultures, leaders know how to balance accountability for results with empathy. One way to do this is to aim for reflection instead of reaction. If you’re playing the long game, how you achieve goals is going to get you further than what you achieve short-term. Employees who feel they can learn and grow are more engaged. Receiving developmental feedback is also critical to development.