“I don’t have stress, but I may be a carrier.” – Erma Bombeck
If you’ve been thinking there is more to do than there is time to do it, you’re not alone. In fact, the time between Thanksgiving and year’s end is one of the most stress-filled times of the year. While the stress may stem from good reasons—attending holiday gatherings, spending time with relatives and friends, and welcoming in a new year, you also may be exasperated by year-end deadlines, last minute client needs and final pushes to achieve financial metrics. Times of high expectations personally and professionally often create stress—and a leader’s stress often leads to secondhand stress in employees.
Stress is contagious. Employees who work with leaders who are stressed are more likely to internalize the stress and communicate it to others. Since leaders are responsible for creating workplace culture, they need to acknowledge their own stress and identify effective ways to manage it. The business incentive is that stressful work environments destroy employee engagement, productivity and satisfaction. In addition, a recent study by the British Heart Foundation found that two in every five employees claim that stress at work affected their health and increased bad habits such as excessive drinking, smoking, eating poorly and reducing exercise.
Employees look to their leaders to learn how things are going and how to behave at work. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact on others and have increased self-awareness about the verbal and nonverbal messages they send. Especially during the holidays and in stressful conditions, great leaders are mindful of what they say and how they say it. With a focus on getting the work done, they work to express appreciation, look for ways to support members of the team, encourage collaboration and maintain optimism. Realizing that negativity can be infectious, they take time to listen to those who are overwhelmed, redirect naysayers, help others identify alternatives and provide information and data to move things forward. Remember, your goal is to both manage stress and avoid being a carrier.
For ideas on how to reduce stress in your work team, download: Ideas for Leaders to Reduce Office Stress.
Our wish for you and yours this holiday season is less distress and much success in 2019 and beyond.