It's no secret that these days employees at all levels are often required to do more with less. When we perceive that available resources are no match for the perceived demands in front of us, we respond naturally with stress. We each have a finite amount of time to allocate across many competing demands, often set by various leaders within the business. Successful, sustainable organizations have leaders who keep safety at the top of the list, which includes managing the demands that cause stress and ensuring their employees are enabled to create safe and efficient production. Some examples of stress reduction behaviors that clear the way for successful team execution are listed below.
Ask Yourself these 'Do You' Questions to Check Your Own Practice:
Do you model good stress reduction behaviors? When challenges arise that have your stress level increase do you address it in the moment by taking a walk, calmly exploring solutions, or taking a break from the issue to focus elsewhere if possible? When leaders remain in control of their state and decision quality during stress inducing events, employees perceive that they are in good hands and are more likely to remain focused and engaged rather than stressed.
Do you reach out proactively to clarify priorities often? As new initiatives come online, balancing the new ones with existing workload is not easy. Lack of clarity about priority of work tasks often leads to anxiety about getting the 'right' things done first. With limited time and multiple competing demands employees, supervisors, and middle managers often find it challenging to attend to all their priorities. It's great when employees are the catalyst for such discussions, but why not work it into existing discussions to ensure they are confident, on track, and working toward stated desired results.
Do you regularly review time management and ask questions about work life balance to gauge the time and effort required for employes to execute on their work tasks? Work life balance is a tricky one as each individual differs in their own needs for time dedicated to non-work activities like family and friends. Engage in some active listening when talking with employees about their need for balance and then assist them to create a mutually agreed to plan where the work gets done and employees continue to feel that the organization and its leaders support them.
Do you ensure that required resources are in place (people, tools, equipment, training, etc.) If you control resource allocation, regularly ask your people about what they need to complete their work safely and efficiently. If you need to influence upwardly to acquire additional resources, do so in a collaborative fashion to talk through and develop a workable plan. Show tenacity in solving problems that can adversely impact how employees engage in safe behaviors.
Do you consistently and predictably take time with direct reports and at the frontline talking about critical safety details? Doing so fosters respectful relationships by maintaining a hierarchical link across power differentials and shows others that they and their safe work are important and worthy of your time spend. Face time also creates an opportunity to provide feedback and recognition for observed performance including safety performance. When employees receive feedback from credible leaders that they are shaping the organizational culture through their safe work practices, they experience an additional sense of pride and satisfaction that acts as an inoculation against workplace stressors.