Work stress is not necessarily a negative force. In fact, studies have shown that, without a certain level of stress to challenge us, our jobs would be boring and unrewarding. Stress becomes a problem, though, when it builds up to such an extreme that we are unable to cope with it. The solution to stress therefore, is not to eliminate it altogether, but to maintain it at a level where it remains a motivating force
Stress goes with the job – most jobs. The signals of stress: apathy, fatigue, tension, frustration, detachment, boredom, irritability, hopelessness, a sense of not being appreciated, deteriorating health and absenteeism. Your staff are not immune to stress – in fact YOU may well be the cause of it. But as a Manager of people, you can help to alleviate employees stress in a number of ways:
1. Be reasonable in your expectations
Don't make unreasonable demands on employees. Extra duties take them away fro core tasks and make their goals more difficult, or even impossible to achieve. Often we apply too much pressure on our staff to satisfy our own values or ambitions.
2. Be decisive, clear and unambiguous
When managers inappropriately delay making decisions or reverse previous decisions, employees report that they experience more stress than when firm, timely decisions are made. So collect relevant data, set achievable deadlines and make decisions at the appropriate time. As well, lack of timely information about rules, standards, evaluative criteria and goals causes confusion, uncertainty and frustration. Effective communication is vital.
3. Create a supportive work environment.
Some work environments often isolate workers from one another, making it difficult for them to receive encouragement and support from colleagues. Foster a supportive network to allow your staff to share problems and resources, because that will soften the effects of stress.
4. Be alert to the value of self-esteem
Many workers suffer frustration from wondering how effective they are. They report stress from a lack of feedback, especially if they feel they do not get due recognition for any extra effort they may put in. Be liberal with meaningful praise and encouragement.
5. Plan ahead.
Stressful situations can be avoided by employing a bit of foresight and planning. Alert your staff to special events, projects and meetings well ahead of time so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
6. Involve employees in the decision-making where appropriate
When staff are given are given the opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their work, they experience more clarity, fewer conflicts and better relationships. But don't ask for input and then ignore it.
7. Be consistent in disciplinary matters
Be consistent in enforcing policies governing the conduct and performance of your staff.
8. Communicate with each staff member
Communication is the key to building trust, a healthy atmosphere, team spirit and a sense of community within your team/group/company. Seek out employees whenever possible and talk with them. Sponsor small group discussions or retreats away from the workplace. Use bulletin boards and in-house newsletters to spread the message. Keep everyone informed about changes, however small they may be.
9. Provide adequate resources
Lack of supplies and facilities can be quite stressful for enthusiastic employees/workers. Make every attempt to fund existing programs before allocating monies to new programs or activities for which employee commitment has not been secured.
10. Always follow through.
Implement only important innovations for which you can muster sufficient time, skills, resources and commitment. Managers are often criticized for initiating new programs and then failing to follow them through adequately.
11. Provide variety in a employees life
Burnout can occur from a feeling of being locked into a routine job. Identify potentially exhausting jobs, and wherever possible have your staff switch assignments, projects etc. to find new challenges and a fresh environment.
12. Be an effective gatekeeper
Protect your staff. Control the rate of innovations entering the workplace. Some you will be unable to delay or exclude, but you can control your own initiatives. Protect your staff from angry customers, and always support your staff when speaking to others.
13. Check your personal style for defects
Your own managerial style may trigger feelings of anxiety amongst staff. Be alert to such defects as:
- Delegating to much or too little
- Blaming others
- Playing favorites
- Not delivering on promises
- Discouraging creative thinking
- Frankness lacking or too much
- Hogging credit
- Nit picking
- Being cheap with praise
- Setting unreasonable deadlines
- Showing lack of concern for others
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