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Rx for Office Stress

By: AMA Staff

Given the pressures of the workplace today, managers have two key responsibilities: Controlling your own feelings of burnout and minimizing employees' stress.

Easing Employee Stress
As a savvy manager, you should provide your staff members with the information they need to do a good job, give regular feedback, and say “thank you." You should involve your employees in decisions that affect their work—don’t let them feel powerless—and be sure to recognize a job well done.
If you can’t provide monetary compensation, then consider other forms of recognition. Establish easy-to-use channels of communication so they can tell you when there are problems (like unrealistic deadlines).

Maybe they need help. If so, see that they get the resources they need. Most important, if you see one of your employees is evidently tired and suffering from work overload, then look for ways to reduce his or her responsibilities. If you suspect that an employee is putting in extra hours from fear of being terminated, then provide reassurance if you can, or be honest with the employee about his or her future with the company.

What about the stress you are under?

Coping with Your Own Stress
To help minimize the stress that stems from overwork, the best advice is to learn to pace yourself. The most successful managers are those who have learned to go into overdrive for a period, then slow down, speed up, and at the end of the day, take a break.

If you feel stressed out while at the office, take a walk around the block. If you don’t want to leave the office, at least step away from your desk--say, walk over to the office copier to do your own copying. The objective is to briefly get away from that stack of paperwork or long list of e-mails awaiting your attention.

Don’t worry how you will fit a big project into your workday. Plan, instead, how you will get it done. Work on it when you feel more energetic and can be most productive. Ask yourself, “When is it easiest for me to do a task? When is it toughest?” If you don’t know, keep a record over a period of time, and then try to adjust your work schedule so you do the most stressful tasks when your energy level is at its highest.

Finally, try to put people and situations into perspective. When you look at each situation at the office as a matter of life and death, you can develop tremendous feelings of stress. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I don’t complete the project on schedule? Will the world end?” The answer: No. Ask yourself, “Will I lose my job?” The answer: Unlikely. “Will my manager think less of me?” The answer: Perhaps, but more likely the extra time taken might produce a better report or analysis. This will please your manager, particularly if he or she has been warned in advance about the delay.

About the Author(s)

AMA Staff American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.