Work can be stressful at times, no matter how much you love your job. A good manager doubles as a mentor, supporting employees through busy periods to ensure they don’t suffer from burnout. But managers are human and can feel the same stress as other employees. If you are a manager striving to serve as a good example for your charges, you have to learn to take care of yourself first.
Tips to Overcome Stress
We all suffer from occasional stress, but burnout is more intense than that; it can leave you feeling completely depleted, drain you of energy (both physical and mental) and seep into other areas of your life, taking a toll on your nutrition, health, and personal relationships. Burnout can be contagious, too; your team is likely to pick up on your negative vibes, adding to their own feelings of stress. Taking steps to help improve yourself first can help stem the tide and have a positive effect on your employees. Try the following tips:
- Vow to get healthy. Stress can have a profound impact on your lifestyle. Rather than snacking on Doritos all day long – the very definition of “stress-eating” – make healthy nutritional choices instead. Supplement that with regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and relaxation exercises and you’ll be on your way to better health. Don’t think of this as a luxury so much as a method of self-preservation.
- Make it a team effort. Learning to control stress often works better if you approach the issue as a solidified group. Consider a group meditation class or, at the very least, an open conversation in which you share strategies for combatting stress. Just be sure to make participation voluntary; forcing somebody to take part can aggravate that sense of burnout.
- Display compassion. Many people view burnout as a personal failure but remember that everybody experiences it from time to time and that today’s fast-paced environment, with its emphasis on 24/7 technology, can leave us all feeling pushed to our personal limit. The world is an imperfect place; recognizing that and going easy on yourself (and your team) will help put things in perspective.
- Be a good example. This is part of being a mentor, whether you consciously strive to or not. Slow down your own frantic pace and make downtime a priority; others will pick up on your cues and adopt similar strategies. Encourage your employees to take regular breaks, no matter how busy the workload, and refrain from sending after-hours emails as much as possible; drawing a line between work and leisure will help improve everybody’s mood.
- Advocate for your team. If your entire team is burdened with a heavy workload, show you are on their side by relaying the problem to your boss and asking for help. Let him or her know the consequences of burnout (mistakes, higher costs, employee turnover) and see if there are solutions that will benefit your team without deviating from the company’s overall goals. Something as simple as eliminating meetings – notorious time-wasters – can really help.
- Practice optimism. This can be difficult when you are feeling stressed but try your best to promote an atmosphere of positivity. Be friendly, smile at others, and acknowledge your team’s hard work and effort. Should you reach a particular goal, celebrate! Much like stress, optimism is also contagious.