“I dread going into work today.” “How am I going to make it through another day at the office?” If we could hear others’ thoughts, how often would you hear this coming from those you work with? No one wants to work in an environment where they feel like this. As a leader, you can’t necessarily control how others feel but you certainly can impact how they think and feel about where they work and how they perceive their job. Unfortunately, we can’t hear others’ thoughts and they don’t exactly walk around holding a sign that says, “I’m stressed!” The business environment is always moving and changing causing some on-going amount of stress and anxiety, so how do we know when is it too much?
Signs of stress and anxiety on your team
Stress and anxiety are similar to boiling water. There is a slow build-up before the bubbles start to pop and steam accumulates. Recognizing the signs of when the water heating up and cooling it down then, is much easier than once it is boiling. If you are in tune with your team, you will notice signs such as lack of interest in company matters, increased amount of frustrations about everyday occurrences, reduced personal interactions and increased interpersonal issues.
What causes the stress and anxiety?
Obviously, there have been numerous books written on causes and how to deal with it. In the workplace, there are a couple of common triggers with the first being lack of communication. As I mentioned, business is constantly moving and changing. There’s a lot that goes on and not everyone is aware of the why, when and how. The less people on your team feel as though they are up to date on everything that is happening, the more they feel in the dark and fear of the unknown creeps in. Something as simple as having a meeting with the door closed and making eye contact with someone outside your office can cause anxiety just from the fear of “were they talking about me?”
The other two common causes are lack of confidence in their role or tasks and the fear of making a mistake.
How to help reduce the stress and anxiety
Getting to know those you work with and understanding how they handle situations and react can help alleviate some of the triggers of stress and anxiety. Here’s a few to start with:
– Communication. I can’t emphasize this one enough. This goes beyond chatting with everyone. Keeping the team informed of how they are doing, their impact on the company and what is happening with the company as a whole removes the guessing and stories we tend to create in our heads. This is also the number one recommendation for improving productivity. Keep everyone informed.\
–Training. Trying to learn something new on your own or knowing you are expected to do a task you aren’t familiar with can easily trigger a lot of anxiety in the workplace. You know everyone is counting on you but you are continually being brought into unfamiliar situations with little or no knowledge of how to handle it. Taking time to work with your team and ensuring they have the skill sets and training to successfully accomplish their roles can go a long way to building confidence and security amongst them.
– Laugh at your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The challenge is they are often seen as less forgiving in the workplace as in our personal lives. Help your team understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process. We learn from them and move on rather than living in fear that one will be discovered or that you might lose your job over it. Set the example and start using your errors as a learning experience for others. The more it is communicated, the more you will see weights come off of your team’s shoulders.
Going beyond Taco Tuesdays or Casual Fridays, there’s a lot that you can do to help impact the overall stress and anxiety with your team. Start with the ABC of leadership – “Always Be Communicating” and you will be half way there.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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