The subject of stress, despite being a widely discussed matter, still inspires disagreements between people. This, of course, probably has something to do with the fact that the overall understanding of stress varies from person to person. To some, stress is a very good thing – athletes, for example, need to experience stress in order to perform the way they need to in a sporting event. To others, stress has a reputation for inspiring excessive anxiety – that, in turn, increases the chances of a person becoming depressed.
In reality, stress can be both good AND bad. Putting the right kind of stress on a person can make him produce the best work he can possibly do. Putting the wrong kind of stress on a worker, on the other hand, can make negatively affect his production. So if you happen to be in charge of a team of professionals, you need to figure out the right balance between productive stress and unproductive stress. But how do you do that?
Let them have a clear idea of what needs to be accomplished
People typically experience bad stress at work when they feel like they are not doing well at all. This kind of stress is usually associated with fear of losing a job (made all the more frightening by the economic crisis and the current job market) when a deadline is missed, a project goes wrong, or a person in a higher position expresses disappointment. Bad stress either paralyzes you, or causes you to feel powerless in the face of circumstances. And it’s typically at its worst when the employee thinks he doesn’t know a thing about what he’s doing.
This is why you need to clarify the scope of a person’s responsibilities for any given task. Once you’ve given him a clear picture of what precisely needs to be done by each person, he won’t feel the need to be accountable for every single aspect of the project. Instead, he’ll focus on what HE needs to do and only offer assistance as needed once he’s accomplished his part.
Have a system and ensure that everyone sticks to it
This is especially relevant to those working remotely. Even with services like RingCentral (a cloud-based phone service) and Microsoft 365 (a virtual office suite) on top of benefits like employee autonomy, there are challenges that need to be addressed to avoid bad stress. Among other things, the downside of having this working arrangement is that employee are either expected to be on call most of the time, else they fail to send materials as expected because the schedules are far too flexible. It could even be because some of the technology had gone down on them.
As such, you need a system of checks and balances that keeps everyone informed of the status of projects. Make sure the said system includes rules for when issues affecting project schedules arise – for example, let people know if there are delays so the people involved won’t get stressed over it.
Making the workload reasonable
It may be more easily said than done, but it is absolutely important for you to understand how much work an employee is capable of before he or she is burned out. This is not to say that you shouldn’t push your team – challenge is always good. But talk to them and figure out how much they are capable of doing at any given time.
In doing this, you alleviate the stress of feeling overwhelmed or feeling like a failure.