This week is International Stress Awareness Week running 5-9 November. Recently, I have been delivering a lot of anti-bullying training to large organisations. A topic that always arises during the discussions concerns management boundaries. How stress is related to workload management, emails being sent at all hours and thankless tasks. So, I have put together my top three tips to reduce stress, improve communication and ensure a happier team environment for Stress Awareness Week and beyond.
1. Be clear about when you expect a response to your email
Do you send emails at all hours? Is this your preferred style of working? This may be the case, but do you know how this is received? It could leave your team panicked checking their emails (or worse WhatsApp) throughout the night. This may sound ridiculous, but so many people I speak to feel they have to respond to emails from someone more senior straight away. If you are a night owl who enjoys working this way and gets lots done, I am not asking you to stop. What I am suggesting you do, is add a sentence to your signature like this:
“I send emails at all hours, but don’t expect you to respond out of hours. I look forward to hearing from you during your working hours”.
That, or schedule emails to be sent during working hours or even save them to your drafts folder and send manually when your colleagues are in work.
This sends the message that I appreciate your work-life balance as a manager or colleague. I respect the choices you chose to make whilst having my working preferences. It also means staff have boundaries and know what the expectations are.
2. Use the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards Tool
This is one of my favourite easy-to-use tools available. You can access it here. It enables managers to help identify work-related stressors in six key areas. This is done through a questionnaire that you and your team complete. The six Management Standards are (credit HSE website):
- Demands – this covers workload, work patterns and the work environment
- Control – this relates to autonomy, so how much say the person has in the way they do their work
- Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues
- Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour
- Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles ( or indeed duplicating work in several areas of an organisation)
- Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation
Getting feedback from your team to find out where the pinch points are means stressors can be managed in a proactive way. It enables you to have meaningful discussions about what is going well and what needs to be improved in a holistic way.
3. Recognise a job well done
When people are thanked for their work it builds rapport with managers and trust in the organisation. Staff who are appreciated are more likely to be engaged and motivated. Forward-thinking modern businesses know that staff happiness is the key to moral and financial success. To start with, recognition can be a simple thank you or praise at a 1-2-1 for a particular piece of work. It is also a good idea to recognise staff during team meetings and away days in a public arena.
People will feel appreciated and valued in different ways, we all have our preferences. If you want to find out more about your appreciation style and be mindful of others’ preferences, I recommend the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman. It outlines how supervisors and managers can effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their staff. It includes an online questionnaire to complete, alongside tools of how to implement a plan. If you are looking for innovative ways to show appreciation, 6Q lists 40 fun ways to say thank you.
These tips are useful as a starter for Stress Awareness Week and beyond. Leave a comment below and share what you do to minimise and reduce stress for you team.
Click here to find out more about the training Diverse Minds can provide and support you with managing stress in the workplace or for yourself.