How Managers Can Handle Stress in Times of Economic Crisis

Posted by: Diane Brady on March 15, 2009

Here’s a guest post from Leslie Seppinni, a clinical psychologist who has written extensively on the subject of “excuse free living”. I asked her to give some advice to managers on handling stress in this environment. And here is her response:

The first thing to remember is that you alone cannot save the company. It’s important that you don’t stay at work beyond your personal limits— you must sleep, eat and exercise. Deprivation causes more stress, a sense of a lack of control and difficulty concentrating. In addition, out of a seven day week you need at least two evenings for yourself and your loved ones. Maintain your family, friendships and spiritual connection by communicating your feelings and seek the emotional support you need to get through this challenging time.

Meet your employees where they are at. In other words, reduce your stress by being honest with your employees and letting them know that everyone in the company has the same concerns. When you speak with them, focus on the importance of maintaining the viability of the company, which results in job security, retention of benefits like health insurance and the ability to provide for all of your families. This is not about ego— you are all working for the good of the team and everyone, including management, has something on the line. Make sure that each person understands the value they bring to the company and acknowledge them for the work they do.

Be less reactive when the pressure is on. In times of high stress it becomes easy to treat employees as expendable. Refrain from giving in to any urge to speak to them harshly, becoming unapproachable due to pressure to cut the fat and an overwhelming workload as a result of attrition. Fostering an environment with an open door policy (at least halfway open) versus tyranny will go a long way in reducing your daily stress. Make sure you take a 10-minute break twice a day, and get outside the office to replenish yourself. Being a manager means leading by example— insist your staff take their breaks as well. Not only will this encourage workers to want to produce more, but they will also complain less to you.

Reader Comments

Thomas Huynh

March 16, 2009 12:38 AM

Dr. Seppinni has some smart general approaches to workplace stress, especially being an example to your employees. My lifework not only includes helping a company make money but also educating people on the resolution of warfare -- so I completely understand the mentality to save the world! (Should be sleeping since I'm writing this post at 12:40AM in the morning!) I think each of us has his or her own approaches to stress because the situations we face are so different ... with varying results as well so I'm glad to get an expert's advice on how to best cope with stress. Surprised to not read about perfection and how our striving to attain it can do a number on our stress levels which ironically sometimes prevent us from making progress; mistakes and imperfections (of things and people) are a part of life and being able to roll with them really helps. Thomas

Byron Stock

March 16, 2009 10:46 AM

There are some simple proven techniques for transforming negative, draining emotions into positive productive ones in the "how to" book SMART EMOTIONS. They show you how to reduce stress, even before it occurs.

Diane

March 16, 2009 2:50 PM

Finding the right balance between keeping up the pressure and trying to ease it is the tough part ...

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