Performance coach, Johanna Hooper, looks at three key ways that you can help your team through tough times…
Reducing stress levels
Before you think about anything else the most important thing to do is look inwards and consider your own stress levels. I say this because when leaders main healthy stress levels, then their overall workplace performance improves and by extension, they can better support their team. When looking at your team’s stress loads, the best thing to do in the first instance is have a conversation with them, and ask them how they are feeling. This may seem quite basic, but, as leaders, sometimes we can be nervous about asking this question because of the uncertainty about where it may lead us, that be increased workload or into an area perceived out of our depth.
What I have seen in workplaces is that often, team members just need to be heard and want to talk, so asking this question and being authentic will help to raise awareness of any problems that are bubbling under the surface, and help you to address them as quickly as possible.
Spotting signs of stress – acute and chronic
You can get a more tangible idea of how stressed your team is by asking them where they’d place themselves on a scale of one to ten. I often talk about two types of stress – acute and chronic. Acute is usually as a result of a catastrophic incident, for example a car crash or the death of a loved one, etc. With this type of stress, we often get a lot of support as it’s more recognisable.
Chronic stress is a result of the challenges we face day to day. If we take the current situation of lockdown – some of your staff may have be carers for the vulnerable or home schooling their children. Chronic stress comes with the expectation that we just need to ‘get on with it’ and has a tendency to build until it becomes unbearable. Feeding back into my earlier point, dealing with chronic stress starts with a conversation, so if your staff member would describe themselves as a six out of ten in terms of stress, ask them what the ingredients are that contribute to that score. Identifying the issues are key to resolving them.
Coping with higher workloads
As a leader you have a lot of power when it comes to being able to support your team in reducing stress in the work environment. Just like anything else that impacts on our bodies and mind, stress deserves diagnosis. We wouldn’t leave a broken bone unattended, so the same approach needs to be taking with mental health and stress in the workplace.
Encourage your team to take time to evaluate and breakdown their stress into what I refer to as the ‘four Cs’ – control, challenge, commitment and confidence.
Ask them how they feel within the workplace focusing on these areas – for example, do any of your staff members feel they struggle with commitment to the job due to extenuating circumstances of childcare? These questions will assist you in getting to the bottom of the issue and help you to reach a starting point.
From here you can play the way ahead for you and your team, and look at how you can address and keep on top of things.
Johanna is a leadership coach and mentor who owns Limitless Peak Performance.