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Practical tips for managing stress within your team

Stress is a response to feeling under pressure. It’s the bodies’ way of letting someone know there is a challenge to overcome. When it’s under control and well managed stress usually leads to positive responses and outcomes; managing time better to meet a deadline or changing your strategy to hit a sales target for example.

When stress is poorly managed or neglected it becomes chronic and toxic. It hinders performance, it spreads through a business and ultimately leads to bigger challenges like long term absence and grievances. It’s essential therefore, that managers and HR professionals play an active role in identifying and managing stress within their teams.

I’d recommend following your business’ unique policy for managing stress and other mental health illnesses but here are some practical tips too.

  1. Step out of the bubble

Provide them with some freedom to step out of the bubble and think. Running is a great option, half an hour on the trails and you’ll have a completely different mind-set when you get back to the desk. Labouring over the problem is counter-productive.

2.Diagnosis

You need to know what the challenge is before you can tackle it. Often this will be obvious; a challenging client, a dispute, a heavy case load. Sub-conscious or perpetual stress though could be rooted in your personal life for example. You don’t have to be an amateur psychologist, start by asking the obvious questions, when did you start feeling stressed, what do you think caused it?

3. Talk to the coach

If you’re not scoring enough goals you learn from someone who is or you speak to your coach. Yet at work, we’re reluctant to ask for help and we have to be seen to know everything. Create an environment which prioritises knowledge sharing, collaboration and best practice where people are more inclined to ask for help.

4. Make a plan

They’ve cleared their head, diagnosed the problem and sought some advice. Time to make a plan. Encourage them to think objectively about what they need to do to relieve the pressure. Sort a heavy workload into priorities, back-solve a punchy sales target, look at the facts in a dispute etc. Encourage them to be creative with problem solving and be open-minded to different ways of working. Help them to create smart targets to work their way out of trouble and schedule regular check-ups to re-evaluate the plan and show support.

One of the biggest causes of stress at work is the feeling that you have no control over your work. Your role in helping colleagues to manage stress is not to tell them what to do but to listen and guide them. Ultimately they need to follow these steps to gain control of the problem and learn how to manage stress in future.

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