Any job can kick your butt.
If you get knocked down often enough you lose sight of your goals. Your results can nose dive. Your team spirit vanishes. You hate Sunday night (it reminds you of Monday morning). Welcome to survival mode.
If the situation continues for long enough it can have serious health implications too.
Next stop burn-out.
How Many Stressed Out People Are There In Great Britain?
You are far from alone if you have ever been so stressed out you needed time-off from work. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data (1):
The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000 (39%) out of a total of 1 241 000 cases for all work-related illnesses.
From personal experience I know the costs behind the HSE’s numbers. Those costs are measured in disruption to personal and family life; the impact on team outputs; the downturn in customer satisfaction.
It is the difference between enjoying life in 3D and enduring it in 2D. So what are the elements that help you start to overcome overwhelm?
Skilled and confident senior staff help to balance workloads and they practice realism when goal setting for their teams. They are people who value people just as much as spreadsheets.
These leaders create the safe space in which team members produce excellent results; manage risks and speak up about issues that affect results.
That communication is a regular part of the flow within the team. No one wants an unexpected and stress-filled adult-to-adult conversation to kick off; leaving a manager angry and their team member acting like an upset child.
Responsibility starts with self-awareness. How does the team / organisation feel to you? How is it serving customers? How are your values represented? Is the work flowing freely or piling up on your desk?
I’ve found that people know when a situation ‘feels’ wrong. They are the ones having sleepless nights and stress-filled days.
Your self-awareness check will tell you whether: colleague relationships are also suffering; customer feedback shows that they aren’t getting what they expected; it is time to speak out.
Responsibility involves speaking out when these factors are present and reducing the flow of ideas and energy within the team. You can suggest how a change will improve relationships and boost customer satisfaction. Why keep good ideas to yourself?
Remember to have empathy for senior managers. They are always being pushed to produce more outputs, more quickly with less resources in their teams.
From experience, research and work with coaching clients there is value in communicating assertively.
Communicate your feelings positively. Don’t turn any negative feelings in on yourself.
After all, teams with good communication and engagement channels produce better results. That is a key part of the virtuous circle: research shows that being heard and valued is a core component of engagement, which is an important part of producing great results.
I am leading a workshop in 7 days drawing on many of the ideas above. The event takes place in a week on 5 July (2) and before then I will share some further insights.
As a start, take the opportunity to read Rebecca Knight’s Harvard Business Review article (3). It is worth your time.
What Is Your Solution To Overcoming Overwhelm And Combatting Workplace Stress?
Add your voice to this conversation in the comments below. Your views will help another leader or staff member dealing with these issues.
Please share this post with others, where that will help someone improve customer satisfaction; create a more supportive team and experience greater job satisfaction.