Tips for team leaders in stressful times
Stress has always been a problem in the workplace, but rarely has it skyrocketed as it has in 2020. With so much change, our brains tilt to the max with environmental rife around us. The most worrying aspect of this problem is the considerable effect of stress on our teams’ health. Even before 2020, Forbes reportedthat workplace stress was on the rise and has increased significantly in the last three decades. Technology has increased the speed of work exponentially, and it’s simply hard to keep up with the pace of work today. Worse, this stress is contagious and spreads unless leaders know how to recognize it and use laser coaching techniques to address and reframe it rapidly.
What is Stress?
Stress is the physical and psychological reactions to events (stressors) that seem overwhelming. When most people talk about stress, they refer to bad stress (called distress), but stressors can also be positive and motivational. For example, events like promotions can be stressful, but many people actively seek this stressor. Differences in interpreting potential stressors demonstrate another critical feature of stress - it is highly individualized. The same event could be understood positively by one person and negatively by another. The interpretation often depends on the resources each individual has available to deal with the stressor. A promotion when you already think you don’t have enough time to meet your responsibilities can seem overwhelming. Thinking about stress as a complex interaction between environmental stressors and the characteristics of the individual is necessary to learn to minimize unnecessary distress.
The effects of stress on our teams
As a team leader, we must keep a close eye on the effects of stress on our top talent and coach them as quickly as possible. What are the most common clues? The list is long. Recent stats from the American Institute of Stress reports that physical effects can show up in numerous forms of pain, like headaches, backaches, neck aches, increased heart rate, fatigue, weakened immune systems, insomnia, stomach aches, and weight gain. Emotional effects are common too. Signs to watch for include: anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, restlessness, racing thoughts, trouble with sleep, problems with memory or focus, lousy decision-making, overwhelm, demotivation, and general loss of engagement.
The impact on team performance
Job stress is not only detrimental to individuals but also organizations. Stress can impact everyday performance when people are in pain or if they are in a bad mood. It can also have substantial effects at the organization level. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress costs U.S. companies over $300 billion a year! In your team, this can show up as people skipping work, getting sick, not working as hard, or even quitting. As a team leader, we should be especially concerned about our most talented team members looking for other positions when stress starts to bleed over into their personal lives. As a leader, your job is to create a culture where your people love to work. Doing so helps them to focus on the contributions that they have to make to their profession versus being distracted by people dynamics that distract them from being productive.
How can you actually use this?
Remember that understanding your team members as individuals is essential for managing team stress. We recommend starting by taking the True Tilt Personality Profile yourself. The report offers helpful insights into your natural patterns and how you interact with others. After you understand your tendencies, ask your team to take the assessment, and generate a Team Climate Profile. This report shows team leaders the natural patterns of their team members and how they can work well or poorly together.