December 20, 2017
Managers are like avocados: Someone is always squeezing them to see how ripe they might be. On one side, employees turn to you as a leader. On the other side, company executives push for results. Successful managers must keep employees happy and productive while moving the needle—not exactly a simple balancing act.
Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy. Unfortunately, even when you’re making the right call, it can lead to poor relationships with employees when they don’t agree. A 2014 study revealed that people who enjoy healthier relationships at work also tend to experience less stress.
When your work relationships begin to suffer, so do your stress levels. This stress can cause your job performance to dip, which only adds to your anxiety. It quickly begins to affect your personal life as well as your professional world.
Avoid getting stuck in an endless cycle of stress by implementing these three strategies:
Focus on your work and your relationships. The phrase “go to the gemba” has become a workplace mantra in numerous companies. In Japanese, “gemba” translates to “the real place.” It’s a zone—either literal or metaphorical—where employees go to get their hands dirty. Developing genuine relationships with your colleagues by working alongside them can be beneficial in numerous ways.
While the pressure of meeting your metrics can be intense, you might notice that you don’t have to worry as much about your numbers if you form solid relationships with your team members. When employees value their relationship with you, they feel more connected to overarching company goals and are willing to put in extra effort to meet expectations. Put it this way: No one wants to go above and beyond for a boss they barely know (or like).
Don’t discount therapy. Therapy is for people who have “real” problems, right? Well, stress is a real problem. It’s been linked to everything from heart disease to depression.
We could all benefit from dropping any stigma that accompanies therapy. Even a brief stint in professional therapy can yield significant benefits over the long haul. Think of it as endurance training for working in management.
Get serious about self-care. Research shows that exercise can help reduce anxiety without any hidden side effects. You don’t need to take up CrossFit seven days a week, but you might be surprised by how much a light workout routine can help lessen your stress.
Beyond hitting the gym more regularly, it’s a great idea to practice some degree of self-care. Carving out time every day to tend to your personal needs can create phenomenal results. One study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology analyzed 39 studies of mindfulness-based therapies (such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation) and found they provide an effective intervention for both anxiety and depression.
While many managers feel trapped between their employees and company higher-ups, it’s important to not let your job become your life. Take care of yourself outside of work by having hobbies, exercising, getting together with friends, and going to the occasional therapy session or yoga class.
Work to live—not the other way around. It might be the only surefire way to keep stress levels in check.