Manage workplace stress

workplace, stress, manage

 

Building passion is also a great way to manage and reduce workplace stress. Stress is a serious drain on productivity and had a direct effect on worker health and absenteeism. Stress-related illnesses cost businesses an estimated $200 billion to $300 billion a year in lost productivity, as reported in Stress in the Workplace. A study by Health Advocate found that 1 million workers miss work each day due to stress. This absenteeism costs employers an estimated $600 per worker each year. Twelve percent of employees have called in sick because of job stress. This is not surprising because most people respond to increased stress with added caffeine and alcohol consumption, smoking, and prescription medications.

A leader’s role in reducing workplace stress

Leaders can reduce stress by helping their people better manage it. Understand that leaders don’t create stress for others. Instead, they create conditions that, taken together with whatever is going on in people’s personal lives, can increase stress levels and decrease productivity and job satisfaction.

A leader’s role, then, is to help their people by educating them about the importance of self-care (see Step 4). They should encourage people to eat properly, take regular breaks and get enough sleep. People also need to have their minds and souls “fed,” with such things as time management training, meditation, prayer and a list of personal and team values to motivate them and help them make correct, healthy decisions. Leaders can also help by pitching in; offering people opportunities to delegate; accepting excellent, even if imperfect, work; and giving people the opportunity to vent and offer constructive feedback to improve processes and systems.

Of course, leaders cannot force their people to take better care of themselves, but the very fact that they offer options and serve as a resource for stress reduction can itself be helpful. After all, who gets the blame for work-related stress if not the boss?

How leaders can reduce their own stress

In addition to the strategies listed above, leaders should consider the following tactics to manage their own increased stress levels.

  • Label your emotion. The simple act of labeling our emotions reduces activity in the emotional brain and increases activity in the areas of the brain associated with focus and awareness. By labeling your emotions you can better separate yourself from the experience and draft a clearer plan on how to handle it.
  • Record and review your leadership goals. Clarity of purpose and action is a solid defense against leadership stress.
  • Be selective in your work. This was discussed in Step 1. Don’t engage in tasks and efforts that unproductive or produce limited benefits. Your time and attention are extremely valuable and must be protected.
  • Learn to delegate. Clear your plate of all the “other” things so you can do the “right” work. We detailed how to do this in Step 2.
  • Seek to control only the controllable. Focus on the things you can control such as your efforts and the way you choose to react to problems.
  • Remain positive. Stress is part of leadership and running successful enterprises. Don’t let it poison your mindset or, more importantly, your self-perception.
  • Get social support. Leaders often lack social support at work. To combat this, consider joining a peer board, a mastermind group, or a leadership development group that will provide trustworthy, confidential, and ongoing social support.
  • Re-group on a task. When a task is stressful, look for ways to better organize and streamline what needs to be done. Take time to clearly define roles and clarify expectations.
  • Increase your determination. Commit to working through your challenges and to not let them gain the upper hand. This determination will push you through the most challenging moments when you may otherwise be inclined to pull back.
  • Keep a collection of inspirational quotes handy. Quotes can give us quick bursts of inspiration. Here are two:
    • “Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” (Thomas Carlyle)
    • “The obstacle is the path.” (Zen proverb)
  • Consider your impact. As much as you are struggling with your burden, keep in mind that you are still needed by others. Your leadership, guidance, direction and support are critical elements in your organization and folks need you to be there for them. Use such thinking to push yourself forward.
  • Share what’s happening. Share your situation with a few close confidants who support you and can fill in for you as needed. Just knowing that others care about you can be extremely uplifting and can keep you going during difficult moments. Having people who can step in during your absence will help alleviate the burden and make sure that things move forward as needed.
  • Find the silver lining. In almost every difficult situation there are silver linings, including considering how many others may have it worse. For example, if you’re struggling with a defiant child who is making poor decisions, consider how much worse off others may be in terms of their condition and disconnect.
  • Reflect on how others did it. Life is filled with stories of “failures” who endured challenges yet went on to achieve great successes. People like Albert Einstein (rejected from college), Thomas Edison (failed repeatedly to invent the light bulb), FDR (crippled by polio), Charles Schwab/Richard Branson (struggled in school due to dyslexia) and Oprah Winfrey (domestic abuse) all overcome personal challenges to achieve greatness.

Here’s How To Manage Your Boss

By Mihran Kalaydjian, CHA

Marketing/Media Writer, Strategist and Consultant

If you think your work should speak for itself, why are so many famous artists unknown until their death? If you want to be known in this lifetime as a master at your craft, you’ll need to learn how to manage up.

office space bossEvery manager, including the CEO, wants to be managed. This became quite evident to me when I was facilitating an executive retreat. The CEO kept telling his people what he needed and most of the people in the room couldn’t process what he was saying until I intervened.

You’re probably good at letting others know how great your people are or how wonderful your company is to work for. But now’s the time to bump it up a notch and do some work on you.

I said, “If you take away only one thing from our session, let it be that the CEO has told you that he wants to be managed. Now go manage him!”

Managing up isn’t about brown-nosing, nor is it about becoming the boss’s favorite. It’s about learning how to work within the confines of an organization to get what you need while helping your boss and the organization meet their objectives. It’s about using influence and acting with integrity and purpose.

It may seem unnatural to manage those above you in business. But mastering this skill is exactly what you need to do to excel in any organization. Managing up is a skill that can be developed through practice.

Here’s some advice on how to manage up.

Be authentic.

One of the keys to managing up is to not make it apparent you’re doing so. The only way to do this is to be authentic. If a recommendation doesn’t feel right for you, tweak it until it feels like something you can wear daily. Challenge yourself to improve every day and before you know it, you’ll be effortlessly managing up.

Master the game of office politics.

Office politics is one game that’s played in every organization. Before you begin writing your letter of resignation, it’s important to understand that politics isn’t just about manipulation. It’s about using power effectively.

Have you ever noticed that the people who get promoted usually aren’t the smartest people in the company? They’re the ones who have strong relationships throughout the organization. They have power.

Power is the ability to get things done through other people. They understand the unwritten rules of the workplace, which allows them to quietly maneuver through the organization to obtain scarce resources, get approval of prized projects and receive salary increases, even when salary freezes are in place. Once you learn these unwritten rules, you too will be able to propel your career forward.

Begin by being observant, listening closely and watching the way people who seem to always get what they ask for interact with their bosses and those at the top. When you understand the behavior in your own organization, you’ll be better equipped to create and execute the game plan you’ll need to succeed.

You may not like what you see. If that’s the case, you’ll need to determine if the organization is one you can remain with for years to come.

Toot your own horn, so you can be heard in a sea of cubicles.

It’s almost impossible to get noticed in today’s workplace, especially when your job is to make sure others are recognized and rewarded for their efforts. There’s a reason why, on every flight, the flight attendant tells the passengers that in the event of loss of cabin pressure, you must put your own oxygen mask on first.

You can’t help others if you’re no longer in a position of power or worse, no longer in the company’s employ.

Given the constant changes in corporate life — buyouts, downsizing, bankruptcies — you must excel at keeping more than just your boss informed of your successes, as there’s no guarantee your boss will be there tomorrow. This isn’t so easy in today’s world of texts, emails and voicemails all fighting for attention. Not to mention the plethora of meetings your boss is attending.

That’s why your sound needs to be memorable. I recently took a group of leaders through my Tooting Your Own Horn exercise. I asked everyone to share something exciting about themselves most people didn’t know. The results were amazing. People stood proudly and talked about skills they’d mastered and awards they’d received, including Olympic medals.

Are you your organization’s best kept secret and if so, what are you going to do about that? Casually weave notable stories into your everyday conversations. Don’t have any stories? Vow to make today the day you do something that’s worthy of being noticed. Become a person of interest so you have something to strategically brag about.

The ability to effectively develop strong relationships with those next to you and above you is a skill that’ll not only allow you to have a seat at the table, but also to be heard.