I’ve just read an article in People Management Magazine about how managers can reduce staff stress.
It opens with some scary claims and facts for managers – staff stress is on the increase due to the recession, stress is the leading cause of white collar absenteeism, etc. It then goes on to discuss four management “competencies” identified by a Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development/Health and Safety Executive study as useful in regards to reducing staff stress:
1. Respect and responsibility
2. Managing and communicating future and existing work
3. Managing the individual in the team
4. Reasoning and managing difficult situations
Underneath the business jargon the article uses these all seem reasonable to me and basically amount to emotional and linguistic intelligence. Your mum might say, “be nice, be clear, be fair” and if we cut all the garbage the trick to reducing employee stress is “don’t be an arsehole” as one consultant I know who was paid large amounts of money to advise a failing and stressed managerial team recently recommended.
Reading the staff stress article it occurred to me is that there wasn’t much advice on how to achieve the desired competencies. How exactly does one “manage emotions” or gain integrity for example? This is an omission I see in a lot of writing on leadership – lists of generalised “stuff to be good at” that don’t really get you anywhere. This to me is where is embodied work comes in addition to the study of language which is crucial for the workload management mentioned and having a vehicle such as Non Violent Communication for the development of emotional intelligence.
If you’re a manager (or husband, mother or friend) looking to reduce the stress of those around you, great. My integral list of things that will help with stress is here, but ultimately it’s a much bigger task as it’s about human leadership, and that’s not reducible to bullet points.
Business So What: If you want to help employees reduce stress, be nice, be clear, be fair.
Stress Ball Boss Pictured – available here.