8.3 Reducing stress
Methods of reducing stress that work for the manager are also likely to be effective for the work team: less stress among direct reports will reduce demands on the manager. Possible actions include:
- Promoting collaborative working approaches. If you are careful to involve members of your team in making decisions about matters that affect them, they will be more likely to cooperate with you and with each other.
- Creating ‘stability zones’. These are areas of work over which you and members of your work group have some control, or a measure of control.
- Being alert to the actual demands being made on you and those in your work group.
- Ensuring that everyone knows their roles and the functions they are expected to fulfil.
- Setting yourself and others clear priorities and keeping an overview of everyone’s workload.
These actions will help you to monitor roles and workloads, to clarify expectations and help to provide staff with a sense of control and certainty, and to promote good relationships.
A final point is that it is common for managers to set themselves high standards in terms of both the quantity and the quality of their work. This is reinforced when the organisational culture creates an expectation of long working hours. If it is usual to hold breakfast meetings, this may create unreasonable pressures on staff who have school-age children. If these examples are familiar you should consider changing your own working practices and persuading other managers to change theirs.
We have considered mainly causes of stress which take place at work. There are many causes of stress in workers’ lives outside work. Some organisations make arrangements to help workers with their problems caused by issues outside work. Since this help can involve specialist knowledge, organisations may employ their own specialists for this. Managers need to know what the organisation’s policies are on stress with causes outside work, and what they should and should not do.