Helping Your Team Manage Stress During Difficult Times
By Lori Counts
It’s more important than ever for philanthropy leaders to be in tune with their employees to offer support related to stress management. Incorporating stress management into the workplace helps alleviate burnout, enhance employee morale and lead to greater productivity and innovation. To lead through all of life’s obstacles in this post-pandemic time, adaptability is essential for today’s leader. As a health care leader, are you setting a good example for others to follow? Are you resilient? Are you the leader others want to emulate?
The best way to help your team manage stress is by setting a good example. As a philanthropy leader, you have a direct impact on your team’s stress levels. What you say, feel and do directly influences not only your team’s productivity and emotional well-being but also the entire office culture as a whole. Your team looks to you, as their leader, to help calm their fears and provide direction with clarity. Here are some ways to help your team manage stress:
Communicate consistently and openly. You may think you are clearly articulating your message, but people often need to hear new information more than once and in different ways—verbally, in writing and visually.
Understand your employees’ needs by keeping an open dialogue. Continually ask for feedback. Consider surveys and small focus groups as ways to check in with employees. Have one-on-one meetings and increase the frequency of your communication, going beyond project lists and timelines. Ask open-ended questions to get more detailed, insightful information from your team.
Be observant and recognize signs of stress in your employees. Help your team mitigate stress by encouraging them to focus on top priorities. Be their coach and mentor while they try to navigate the challenges they are facing. Be empathetic, yet genuine.
Talk about well-being. Discuss the importance of well-being during regularly scheduled meetings to build staff support and resiliency. Let your employees know you are there to provide support, tools and the resources they need. This will also help to destigmatize the topic of mental health.
Incorporate wellness practices into meetings. Wellness practices have been shown to reduce stress levels and increase employee productivity and morale. Provide regular tips and strategies that can be applied at work and home. These practices can include anything from stretching exercises to mindful breathing to meditation.
Be open to flexibility. One huge lesson learned during the pandemic is that employees are just as productive, if not more productive, when working from home. Employees will feel respected as professionals if you are willing to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
Spread positivity and express gratitude. Genuine expressions of gratitude for the work your team is contributing cannot be stressed enough. As a leader, recognize and thank your team regularly in staff meetings.
As William Bridges describes in his book, Managing Transitions, “It is not the change that does you in. It’s the transitions.” When most think of change, it is clearly something that happens to us. Whether it be a shift in organizational strategy, the addition of a new boss or a change in personal relationships, dealing with change can be difficult. However, many changes are situational, with no power to control them. The only thing that can be done is to accept that change is occurring and push forward.
Careful planning can help you lead through any unsettling times. Necessity forces leaders to innovate and think about new ways to help others traverse through the discomfort. What innovative ideas can be brought to light to help you and others adapt to a situation? Put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and chart a path forward. Demonstrating to your team that you have a plan for the big picture will instill their confidence in you as their leader.
Once you have a plan, consider the acronym “CHANGES” to help you navigate through the changes. Always remember to do the following:
C ommunicate constantly through the change.
H elp others to understand the need for change and explain the “why.”
A cknowledge what is being lost.
N avigate through the signs of change. There can actually be a grieving process.
G ive others time to process.
E nsure respect for the past.
S how how the ending contributes to the new beginning. Lead forward with hope and optimism.
Helping your team manage their stress while dealing with all the changes around them is not easy. However, if you embrace your role as a leader and lead through the changes, you will significantly elevate your team and their morale.
About the Author: Lori Counts is a Principal Consultant and Certified Executive Coach with Accordant. She specializes in executive coaching, board development and training, as well as program assessments and capital campaign fundraising. You can reach her at Lori@AccordantHealth.com or connect with her through LinkedIn.