Following on our theme of Stress Awareness Month, it probably comes as no surprise that research often finds that work is the most stressful factor in peoples lives and this can be caused by a number of things, such as poor management, an excessive workload or being set unrealistic targets.
Stress-related absences are one of the biggest costs to businesses every year, so most could really benefit from taking a closer look at the way they manage their people, especially how they cope in stressful situations.
Below we have put together a few tips that business owners/managers can do to improve the way they manage their employees ensuring they are not the cause of any unnecessary stress and frustration.
Taking time to listen to your employees is imperative as it not only makes them feel valued, it can have a massive impact on their performance and productivity. An employee might be trying to tell you how a different approach to a task could be more efficient or cost effective or they may have a creative idea that could help you solve a long-standing problem. It can also alert you to an employee who may be struggling with a personal issue or heavy workload and who needs more support. Taking the time to listen is invaluable and ensures you really take in what your employees may (or may not!) be telling you.
As as a business owner/manager, supporting your employees is part of the day job – and this can only be done effectively if you are available and approachable. Make sure your employees know it’s alright for them to ask questions or seek advice if they’re unsure about something. Also if you are often out or in meetings, let them know your movements so they can plan the best time to catch you. A couple of minutes spent answering a quick question not only gives them reassurance that they are doing the right thing, but will save trouble further down the line if they were headed in the wrong direction.
Make sure that your team knows they can trust you and have your support even if things don’t go to plan. If people are afraid they will be unfairly blamed for anything that goes wrong, they will be constantly operating in a state of anxiety and won’t do a good job. Equally, make sure credit is given where it’s due and that you acknowledge the work of your team when things go right. Don’t make promises to people if you’re not sure you will be able to deliver, if you operate with honesty and integrity your employees will do the same.
Be open and direct
Uncertainty is the cause of much of the stress and anxiety in many businesses and if you don’t let your employees know what is happening they will speculate, gossip and often wind themselves up into a frenzy over a rumour which is completely unfounded. If there are changes on the horizon, tell employees what you know – or if you don’t know, let them know when you expect to know more. Open and honest feedback on performance is also vital, employees will want to know how they are doing and if they need to be doing anything differently. Don’t just wait for the performance review to come around, if you give people feedback on an ongoing basis they will be clear about what their priorities are, secure in the knowledge they are approaching tasks in the right way and that you will support them in any areas where they may need further development.
Even though you are in charge of a team and you need to make sure they get the right results that doesn’t mean you can’t show kindness and sympathy where appropriate – show your human side! Many business owners/managers are uncomfortable displaying any kind of ‘emotion’ in the workplace and shy away from difficult or personal conversations with employees. However, stepping outside of your professional role and communicating with people on a personal level will help you build a much more motivated and engaged team. Remember be as flexible as possible when people are dealing with difficult personal issues – and if someone’s performance is not up to scratch, make sure you look a bit more deeply into what may be behind the issue.
If you need any further help or guidance about how to deal with stress in the workplace, give us a call.