Stress is an inescapable part of life and work, and it is well recognised that the effects of stress can be both positive and negative.
Imagine what it must be like to work for Donald Trump who like all managers will have significant impact on stress levels based on how he deals with staff; “you’re fired”.
Psychologists call good stress “eu-stress” and bad stress “dis-stress”.
The effects of stress can have significant effects in the workplace and arguably can make, or break, a business. To a large extent, this depends on how stress arises and how it is managed.
The average working week adds up to approximately 47 hours a week and over a lifetime this equates to 100,000-plus hours! So, if those hours are predominantly filled with negative stress, both employees and the business are likely to suffer.
Managers have a key role in promoting and controlling stress
While the manager may be under pressure to achieve challenging targets and therefore be stressed themselves, they need to be very honest and self-aware about how they handle both themselves and others to ensure positive, rather than negative results.
They need to recognise when their own stress levels are reaching the point where it is turning from good and motivating to bad and demotivating. A good indicator of this is when it lasts too long or becomes too intense to be managed. The results can be high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
If they put pressure on their team to meet results by shouting, swearing, threats and other negative behaviour, they may achieve results in the short-term but ultimately their behaviour will be counter-productive.
So, the first step for the manager in managing their own negative stress is recognising it and trying to moderate their own behaviour to manage it. This may mean acknowledging their own limitations and getting help, even if only a listening ear, in order to strengthen their self-control.
Negative, or dis-stress happens when employees feel that the amount of effort they are putting in does not meet the rewards they receive. If this happens they are likely to become less motivated to put in effort and do their best.
However, the “reward” or incentive does not have to be the promise of more money. In fact, research has found that the promise of extra cash, while welcome, is not often the prime motivator for workers to put in greater effort.
It can be as simple as a thank you for a job well done, or for putting in the extra effort that has allowed the team to achieve the desired target. Maybe treating the team to cream cakes at coffee break or taking five minutes out to talk to them about their non-work interests and activities and family.
The point is to convey that people are recognised as individuals and valued, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be.
The other aspect of managing stress is to ensure it isn’t constant, and in especially high-pressure environments to make sure that it is relieved every now and then. Ideally it should not be ‘taken home’.
The effective manager will not only be able to manage their own stress but also to manage the “right” level of stress that gets the best out of their team. Something that Donald Trump is clearly not doing.
With thanks to Ivan Throne https://darktriadman.com/2015/12/16/donald-trump-the-dark-triad-man/ for permission to use the picture.