Our Stress Management Procedures
Is your staff stressed out? Sources of stress in the work environment need to be recognized and addressed.
Make stress management courses or books available to employees.
- The more stressed out they are, the less likely they are to realize it. Some people actually get pleasure out of feeling sorry for themselves or getting sympathy from others.
- The classic type A people may feel they are actually thriving in an environment which keeps them on edge. Eventually their health could take a nose dive.
- People with negative attitudes usually do not have advanced coping skills. Negative people tend to associate with each other so they can continue to voice their negative opinions.
- Use stress reducing phrases such as: "Any one thing we can accomplish will move the project further ahead". Or: "At least we know what doesn't work, now we can try it a different way."
- Make sure you give your staff plenty of notice before they have to go out of town. People with pets or children need extra time to plan.
The result is stress, anxiety, fear, and anger.
- Employees who have been at their job for a long time are usually the first to anticipate problems, often before management or the client. Hence they are dealing with both present and future stress and can become demotivated if no one is listening to them.
- Employees often feel they have no control over the outcome of a situation. They need to have a sense of control, even if it is just documenting the problem in a memo or a manual.
- People under stress need the emotional support of others to get through it. Project managers must provide positive emotional support. This may take a passive form such as taking every one out to lunch or having a catered lunch in the office. Keep the moral up by bring in bagels and muffins in the morning. Artwork or music can help too if it is calming. Parties every Friday at 5:30 can help people wind down from a frantic week (do not provide alcoholic drinks for liability reasons).
- Staff is not deriving any satisfaction from their work. Recognize the efforts of the staff with awards, gift certificates, free coffee and sodas, bonuses, time off for shopping during the holidays, or other meaningful perks. Recognize staff anniversaries, for example 1 year of employment.
Use negative motivation only in small doses!
- The project manager has threatened staff job security. The fear of losing their job is very distracting to employees.
- The philosophy of the company is to cut staff, cut budgets, cut anything to improve the bottom line instead of improving productivity. This saves money only over the short term. This scares people into being unproductive. Instead involve staff in the problem solving activities. They may think of ways that escaped management.
- Endless preaching about efficiency, productivity, a narrow focus on the bottom line, excelling in non productive functions such as accounting and budget tracking, and an "us" versus "them" attitude are all evidence of managers who use negative motivation.
- If a corporate culture has been geared to think that people are their greatest overhead, that is inherently negative. To reduce overhead, reduce staff or cut salaries or bonuses. Change the corporate culture to instead view people as their greatest asset which needs to be cultivated so they can achieve greater things.
Help managers recognize who is under stress
- Newly divorced people suffer from anger, grief, and strife.
- Physical illness causes stress.
- Single parents are under a lot of stress
- People caring for chronically sick children or sick parents are under stress. They need flexible schedules and personal leave.
- Learn to recognize the physical symptoms of stress such as: tightness in the chest, grinding teeth, insomnia, indigestion, fidgeting, loss of appetite, tenseness, fatigue, frequent urination, upset stomach, stiff neck or shoulders, skin rashes, breathing difficulties, headaches, lower back pain, feeling faint, gastrointestinal problems, rapid pulse, trembling hands, and cold sweats.
- Recognize behavioral reactions to stress: anger, confusion, drug or alcohol abuse, fear, impatience, inability to concentrate, intolerance of people, irritability, low tolerance for noise, overreaction to events, pessimism, poor memory, short temper, sleep disorders, smoking, consuming too much caffeine, smoking, negative attitude, suspiciousness.
- Learn to recognize verbal clues of stress such as "This can't be happening to me" or "There is never enough time."