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Playbook

Minimizing Your Team’s Stress

December 21, 2016

Managing stress at work

Managers need to address factors that may have a negative effect on the work team. Stress in the workplace is one such factor. Given the pressures of the workplace today, you have two key responsibilities: controlling your own feelings of burnout and minimizing employees’ stress.

Easing employee stress

As a manager, you should provide your team members with the information they need to do a good job, give them regular feedback, and say “thank you.” You also should involve your employees in decisions that affect their work—don’t let them feel powerless—and be sure to recognize a job well done. If you can’t provide monetary compensation, consider other forms of recognition.

In addition, establish easy-to-use channels of communication so that employees can tell you when there are problems, such as unrealistic deadlines. Maybe they need help. If so, see that they get the resources they need.

Most important, if an employee is evidently tired and suffering from work overload, look for ways to reduce his or her responsibilities. If you suspect that an employee is putting in extra hours due to fear of being terminated, provide reassurance if you can or be honest with the employee about his or her future with the company.

What about the stress you are under?

Coping with your own stress

To help minimize the stress that stems from overwork, the best advice is to learn to pace yourself. The most successful managers are those who have learned to go into overdrive for a period, then slow down, then speed up.

If you feel stressed out while you’re at the office, take a walk around the block or at least step away from your desk—say, walk over to the office copier to do your own copying. The objective is to briefly get away from that stack of paperwork or long list of emails awaiting your attention.

Don’t worry about how you’ll fit a big project into your workday. Instead, plan how you will get it done. Work on it when you feel more energetic and can be most productive. Ask yourself, “When is it easiest for me to do a task? When is it toughest?” If you don’t know the answer, keep a record over a period of time. Then try to adjust your work schedule so that you do the most stressful tasks when your energy level is at its highest.

Finally, try to put situations into perspective. When you look at each situation at the office as a matter of life and death, you can develop tremendous feelings of stress. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t complete the project on schedule? Will the world end?” The answer: No. Ask yourself, “Will I lose my job?” The answer: Unlikely. “Will my manager think less of me?” The answer: Perhaps, but more likely the extra time taken might produce a better report or analysis. This will please your manager, particularly if he or she has been warned in advance about the delay.

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American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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