By Karen D. Nutter,
CBK Chief Inspiration Officer
Every team leader I have spoken to over the past few weeks has expressed concern over the on-going challenges caused by COVID-19. Some businesses are struggling to re-open under new health and safety guidelines. Others are trying to determine how much staff to bring back right now and how to train them on new procedures. And, everyone has concerns about the high levels of stress and how it’s affecting leaders, team members, and customers.
It is challenging enough to manage your own stress. But, a good leader also looks to help team members handle their stress levels in order to maintain a productive, collaborative, and engaged workforce. Here are some leadership skills and activities that can see your team through these very turbulent times:
Model and encourage well-being practices. Stress can be contagious, but so can well-being. Good leaders set a good example for their staff and show (rather than tell) them how to stay grounded. You can do this by offering mindfulness and emotional intelligence training; encouraging exercise, yoga, and other renewal activities; and keeping yourself grounded and healthy.
Exercise empathy and compassion. When your people feel cared about, they are more capable of staying grounded and steady. One study of 5,600 people found that “the single greatest influence on profitability and productivity within an organization is the ability of their leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognizing their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism, and fostering co-operation among staff.” So, help steady the ship by showing you care.
Ask. Periodically ask team members to rate their stress levels or do it for them. Using your empathy and compassion, checking in with employees can help you both recognize and manage stress. Some of my clients prefer using our Stress Quotient Assessment 2-4 times a year to see if team stress is rising or falling. Right now, most stress levels are elevated so we are able to use the assessments to show what areas are causing the most stress and create a plan to address them. And knowing the boss cares about their stress levels helps employees feel valued.
Build Together. There are many ways to manage stress, and each person needs to find what works best for them. As a team leader, the best thing you can do is get your team together to help create solutions for overcoming high-stress levels on a corporate and individual basis. Their input not only builds trust and commitment, but it offers individualized options that are adaptable to each person’s personal needs.
Engage Their Sense Of Purpose. People thrive when they feel they have a purpose. Engaging employee motivators can help them focus more on something positive and rewarding instead of being overwhelmed by situations they can’t control. Whether you help them see the importance of their work for company success, or you bridge job-matching surveys and motivation assessments to ensure their job roles align with their motivators, connecting employees’ individual purpose to their work can help them see beyond the “stress du jour” and work towards a unified goal.
Our society has been spinning through several “new normals” over the past few months and it is likely to be that way for an indefinite period of time. So, rather than have several new ones, it’s easier to look at the “now-normal” which is constantly changing and filled with many unknowns. During these times, it’s important that we learn how to effectively manage the fear, anger, and sadness that creates stress in our workplace and at home. And as a team leader, you can be a calming influence who helps other people keep their balance through any challenge, and grow a more stable business in the long run.
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