As if our stress levels have not been impacted enough by Covid risks, stupid government shutdown decisions and overall market uncertainty, I find that businesses can cause undue stress within their own organizations. Stressed out leaders often lead to stressed out employees (and vice versa). Here are some ways by which we, as business leaders, can reduce overall organizational stress.
- It is critical for leaders to create very clear expectations for their team members. Nothing is more frustrating, for an employee, than working hard at doing their job (as they see it) only to find out that the company is disappointed in their performance. I’ve been guilty of this. I recently had an employee that was not doing what I wanted them to do. As I investigated the situation, it became clear that I did not set detailed enough expectations as part of their job description, process instructions or their training. That’s on me. Having corrected that situation, now if the employee does not perform, it’s on them (as long as I am giving consistent feedback to them).
- This leads us to the second way we can reduce stress levels: Ensure that we have efficient and effective feedback/communication loops. Our team members want to feel valued. And, if we are leading well, we want their feedback, too. More eyes, ears and brains on a particular task almost always delivers better results. Plus, it makes our team members feel like they are making a difference. This has been called elsewhere “creating a community.” Who doesn’t want that?
- One of the more challenging, yet worthwhile, tasks is to make sure we have the right people doing the right jobs. While it’s pretty much a given that our businesses will be more successful if we hire good people, making sure the job in which we place these good people is the right job for them is like turbo-charging their performance. Imagine a football team with a great quarterback that plays offensive tackle while the tackle plays QB. They are still great players but they are not being utilized optimally. The team is going to struggle. It’s the same in business. Get to know your team members so that you can put them in positions to be successful.
- Finally, build great systems in which your team members can excel. We can set clear expectations, and have great communication with them while having them in the perfect postions for their skillsets. However, if we don’t have systems and processes in place to ensure clarity and consistency of their results, we won’t be much better off than if we did none of these things. People need structure. Period. A lot of people will say that they thrive in an unstructured environment. These people, however, simply create their own structure within which to work. Not everyone can do that. It’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, to ensure that we have good processes and systems to help ensure our team’s success.
With these four situations addressed, stress will be down, business results will be up and leadershp burnout will be minimized.