How to manage stress

When I ask company leaders and HR managers what their biggest challenges are, more often than not managing stress appears high on their list.  It is undoubtedly a big worry for people because we don’t like to feel that people we care about are stressed, but sometimes because we don’t believe they are and it seems all to easy to get a doctor’s note.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, it all comes back to what anyone who is managing people should be doing, which, surprisingly, is managing people! In short, most people don’t and, when I work with them and they do, virtually all of their negative problems go away.

It really is very simple, but, like all simple things, you then have to go and do it.  It’s a bit like if you want to lose weight.  You have to eat less calories than you burn – very obvious, very simple, but you firstly have to have resolved that it is really important to you (i.e. the benefits outweigh the pain involved) and secondly you need the discipline to stick to the system you have chosen.

So, what would be the benefits to you of spending more 1-to-1 management time with the people that work for you?  Write them down.  They are massive and will save you a lot of money and a lot of time.

Then, what should your system be?

What works really well in all the organisations that I work with is the following system:

1. You as the manager need to decide what you want each employee to be doing for you?  Sounds simple and if it is, just go ahead and write it down.  Then, ask yourself 2 questions: 1. Does the person know this? If not, then they probably aren’t doing it!  2. Is the person capable of ever doing this?  If not, sort out a solution as soon as you can.  If necessary, fire them and get someone who can.  This sounds harsh, but you are actually doing yourself and them a massive favour.

2. Sit down and agree with the person what it is they do, what success would look like, any development/training/support they might need and the management support they need from you.  Summarise this on one page and take a copy each at the end of the meeting.

3. Meet every month for at least 5 minutes to review this summary (and tweak it) and sign each other’s copy to acknowledge you have done so.

That’s it!  If you do that, you’ll eliminate almost all negative problems between employees and their managers, especially stress, and you’ll be able to get on with what you want to do most which is add value to your organisation.

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