Are You Stuck
in the Middle? How Today’s Busy Managers Can Avoid Stress and
By Dr. Rhonda
Are you waking up at night with workplace scenarios playing
through your head? These are tough times, but there are definitely
ways to cope. What will give you the cutting edge? Leadership laced
with humor, sensitivity and a great attitude! After all, managers
are dealing with so much stress these days. Their employees are
worried about layoffs, and salary cuts prevail. Cuts in worker hours
are shrinking paychecks. In addition, more work is piled on existing
workers rather than hire new ones.
Caught in the middle of it all are the managers. They’re the
ones who are faced with the need to double the impact of the
business and increase productivity, while at the same time
downsizing their teams and keeping the top producers happy! As a
manager stuck in the heart of this stress and chaos, you’re likely
facing the possibility of burnout from both ends. Before getting
stuck, remember that tough economic times call for tough leadership
and management strategies! Leadership doesn’t always have to
be on a large scale to matter. In fact, it’s often the small things
that matter more to the success of your employees and the company.
Go back to the
to know your company and your employees. Stay up to date on industry
knowledge and trends. Be clear about your company’s goals,
scheduling and production. Work a day a week on the production floor
and know first-hand about your team’s concerns.
and get advice from others. Seek out mentors in your world
because leadership is taught; it is not innate. Managing others is a
different skill set than performing a task-oriented job. Your mentor
will encourage you to read and open your mind to change! The burning
question is: Are willing are you to change?
Get an outside
Ask your employees for honest feedback! Effective managers “wear
their rank well,” which means that they view and use their
responsibility as a leader with humility, never abusing the
leadership position the company has given them.
When was the last time you asked questions about your leadership
ability? Ask your team: “What are my strengths, weaknesses? What do
I do right, what do I do wrong? What should I stop doing? What
should I never stop doing?” And say: “P.S. You won’t get fired for
answering honestly!” We’re all human, and during tough times
it’s easy to make a mistake. A strong leader acknowledges an error
or wrongdoing. If you want to be a better leader, learn to
Be fair to your
especially if you were once “one of them.” Managers must confront
uncomfortable issues and handle them in an efficient and balanced
way. What do people look for from leaders? They want a leader who
is fair, consistent and holds everyone to the same level of
accountability. As General Norman Schwarzkopf said, “You don’t have
to be liked to be respected. And to get respect, you must give
respect! You lead by example!” Don’t ask your team to have their
desks and workplaces organized and clean when your desk looks like a
bomb’s gone off! Also, personal use of the cell phone or internet
during business hours sets a poor example!
Be a good listener
– and a good communicator. Managers who are able to listen to both sides of the story will fare
well in the workplace. Exemplary leadership means constantly
refining your communication abilities.
Your employees will not hear your message the same way. Do
you think you’re over-communicating? Research has shown that as
leaders, we actually under-communicate by a ratio of 1-10! While
you may feel like “you’re beating a dead horse,” your employees may
need to hear the same message in different ways to truly hear it! On
the other hand, if you’ve been very clear about your message and
someone isn’t listening, remember the wise lesson of experienced
horsemen: “If the horse is dead, get off!” As a manager, find
different ways to communicate with your team through texting, memos,
e-mails and one-on-one conversations. Communication is difficult to
do well; don’t give up!
Be enthusiastic and
During tough times, it’s easy to get bogged down by all the
negatives in the workplace. You can’t laugh and hold tension at the
same time. Laughter softens how people feel and opens the door for
learning. At the core of a manager’s culture is a “can-do” spirit
that welcomes challenge. Does your “can-do” spirit shine through?
Know when to make
Leadership isn’t always easy, and during tough economic times, it
means making tough choices like knowing which performers can be
salvaged and which ones need to be let go. If you do not make the
decisions, you’re not leading, you’re following. If you have a hard
decision to make, make that choice tomorrow! Sit down tonight and
write down the steps you need to take to implement the decision.
Talk to the boss. If you come to the same agreement, make the
decision and move forward.
Bonus Tip: It’s too late – you’re well on the road to stress
and burnout. What next?
Make a stress
shred list! Write down the names of people, worries, pressures
and concerns that are adding to your stress and then shred it!
time. Write a list, in descending order of importance, of what
you need to do each day. Set limits for yourself and learn to
Find peace in
deep breathing exercises: Sit straight up, close your eyes and
relax. Find a positive object to focus on, then inhale deeply.
Hold the breath for eight seconds and then slowly exhale.
to self-massage: It’s fun and free! Focus on creating firm,
circular massage to your forehead, cheeks and neck.
is first aid for the soul. The best laughter for all is when
you poke fun at yourself!
Run! Walk! Get
outdoors! Exercise every morning and you’ll go to work with a
fresh perspective. If afternoons are better for you, treat
yourself to an outdoor session after lunch or after work.
Stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to make you tense,
irritable, upset and unhappy. Even though
times are tough, continue to be excited and motivated by your
dreams, not pushed by your problems! Managers have a tough but
exciting role – to face these challenges head on, you have to be a
better leader. All of that begins with developing your skills and
character, through small, daily changes and actions.
Read other articles and learn more about
Dr. Rhonda Savage.
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