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As per James E. Loehr corporate people are more of an athlete than any professional athlete because the demands of energy are greater for them as they are expected to work 10 to 12 hours a day while keeping focus, making no mistakes and same routine is expected the following day, which unsurprisingly lead to extensive stress and a manager should be aware of ways to deal with it.
According to Spera & Lanto (1997), a good way of dealing with the stress is replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. They say that there are four manners of combating the negative feelings: physical activities, talking about your emotions with a friend or counselor, try to solve the conflicts or misunderstandings. All of them can help to release the stress, and these techniques can not only be used to release the own manager’s stress but also the employees’. For instance, organizing a physical activity where the employees can relax is a way of approaching a stressful week or month.
Another way of keeping the stress controlled is with positive mental programming (Spera & Lanto, 1997). This is a powerful technique which managers can use to control the anxiety. It consists in envisioning the goal or objective achieved, preparing the leader to be calm when is the time to face the situation. For example, if the manager has a big presentation to explain for the CEO the reason for a decision that has been made, visualizing the success of telling it correctly and having the shown alternative accepted can contribute for this to happen.
Practicing the assertiveness is another solution to deal with stress presented by Spera & Lanto (1997). It consists in stating the opinion in a way that can positively influence the people that are being told. The concept is having the idea approved in a way that the others are willing to follow it. Using other approaches, such as aggressive, may lead to the opposite of what is desired. Hence, the best way of avoiding the stress is state your choice explaining to the employee why it has been chosen and should be followed, eliminating any kind of situation that might generate stress.
Managers daily face deadlines. Therefore, being able to manage their time is crucial. Spera & Lanto (1997) propose 10 principles that assist to organize the time. The first is planning ahead. Creating a schedule in order to know what is necessary to do will reduce surprises during the development of an activity. However, being able to implement it is essential. Thus, the capabilities of keeping the schedule, either due to the manager’s or the employees’ capability, needs to be taken in consideration. The second is schedule leisure activities. No manager is able to keep calm if the job is his or her only activity. Time to relax and have fun out of the work place is needed. Setting dates in a way that the work is able to be finished before is the third principle. Doing this, the manager will have more time to deal with any kind of obstacle that is shown during the process. Moreover, if the project is delivered before the estimated time, the boss and clients will be delighted and surprised, leading to a good impression of the managers’ capability. The fourth way is divide the job. If the objective is big, it is easier to accomplish it if breaking it in small goals. This will give to the manager a clearer vision of what needs to be done. In order to manage your time, it’s necessary to be sure that the progress is on time, being the fifth fundamental. It is more complicated to avert a stressful situation because of time if the schedule is not being followed. Consequently, checking regularly the agenda is important. The sixth rule is delegate whatever you can. This means that the manager can train employees in order to facilitate his work and have some help. Doing this, they can reduce the time of achieving the goal and reduce the probability of facing a stressful occasion that will need an immediate decision. The seventh principle is learning not to work more than it is necessary. In other words, though working overtime brings extra money, it also brings more stress. Consequently, the manager must say no to work longer than the working time. In addition, if working overtime frequently, the manager’s efficiency can decrease, being another reason to avoid this. The eighth rule is to make a list of priorities. In this case, the manager will be able to dedicate to what is more important, according to the time that he or she has. The penultimate fundamental is which the manager should direct his or her attention to the most difficult jobs during the time of the day that he or she is more concentrated. Making this, he or she is not going to struggle as much as he or she would if during an unproductive time of the day. The last principle is to keep the eyes on shortcuts. Sometimes, the manager can learn a new way of dealing with a problem in which it can be easier than the one that he or she knows. New techniques might bring some new results, besides decreasing the time to reach outcomes.
Now, it is equally important for a manager to help employees to cope up with stress and what a manager does for himself in a stressful situation, he should expect the same for employees as well, meaning “put yourself in their shoes to understand their issues”. (Lieberman, n.d.)
One of the techniques for a manager could be to help subordinates to create a place in their own mind that is an imaginary “war room” which they should visit before a project, meeting or may be a presentation. The room should be equipped with everything they feel happy about, it may be awards and honors of previous work, images of their family and friends and may be music they found most inspiring. It would reduce their stress levels about prospective task and will increase confidence and motivation to perform at maximum for the same task. (Loehr, 1997)
At present the corporate world is challenging and competitive, what works today for us may not work tomorrow so is the brutality of corporate world, the competition is unbelievable and the global market is expanding which may be a cause of concern for every subordinate that a manager be supervising. The answer to reduce their concerns is simple and direct “Train them” in order for them to perform best at work, sometimes for employees reason for stress is not knowing about a particular task, (how to perform it in a most efficient way) creates frustration. Training would bring knowledge, efficiency and effectiveness in their work and thereby reducing frustration of them. (Loehr, 1997)
David Posen in “fake work and spinning wheels” chapter 9 of his book “Is work killing you” explains really well the fact that manager should observe to see if the subordinates are overburdened or struggling, if the answer is yes then manager have to see if he can lighten their workload through either assigning work to someone else or deferring it. Additionally sometimes employees are allocated task that may not be of too much importance, here manager could help them to re-prioritize their assignments to save them wasting their efforts on a work which would result in to nothing. Further in last chapter of the same book David suggested some of the solutions to minimize workplace stress for employees such as providing exercise resources, a workout room to allow them to blow off their exhaustion. Moreover providing places of gathering to go on breaks, it increases motivation level and reduces stress levels. Similar experiment was conducted by Elton Mayo in his Hawthorne studies in 1920 whereby he concluded the fact that just financial incentive would not increase productivity, a small time out for a break could even help to increase productivity and reduce frustration of employees. (Boundless, 2015)
Moreover above mentioned solutions were also corroborated by John Puerner, publisher at orlando sentinel, what they did is formed a team to propose changes and they got several recommendations of changes to be made, they changed cafeteria menu so that employees can have better balanced meals and nutritious food, further upgraded athlete facilities such as free weights, machines, basketball court and even created their own Olympics. Due to such initiatives the rate of absenteeism went down dramatically and employees were more productive than at any time before. (Loehr, 1997)
Nobody more than a manager know about subordinates’ behavior, manager can watch for signs of stress someone who is usually efficient, joyful and well organized and is behaving differently, manager can have a private chat with the person to find out about any possible problem and how he could be of assistance to that person. (Posen, 2013)
Long working hours are one of the major reasons of stress for employees, a manager try to avoid long working hours and do not ask employees as well except in unusual circumstances, it always helps to keep motivation level up and stress level down or else employees won’t be feeling that they left office ever, particularly it is helpful where employees themselves aren’t monitoring their own stress very well or striding themselves. (Posen, 2013)
Another suggestion for a manager that could help is to avoid “last minute-itis” meaning it always happens that project run behind schedule and people are chasing down to the wired deadlines, it`s usually because project was not planned well. Planning needs to be proactive and realistic to avoid stressing employees as they move towards finish line such as taking buffer time in to account before start of the project for unexpected glitches. (Posen, 2013)
In addition to this delegation of tasks effectively could reduce stress level, it may include to provide clear instructions it increases confidence, to clarify goals and objectives lack of clarity is stressful, to pick right people for the task, giving them room to work freely and base accountability of them on results and not process as they may do things differently. (Posen, 2013)
Lastly one of the most effective way to reduce stress and increase confidence of an employee is to praise them and always say thank you. Employee need to know how they are doing and acknowledgement of a job well done would definitely boost their motivation. (Posen, 2013)
Boundless. (2015). The Human Side: Hawthorne. Retrieved from www.boundless.com: https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/organizational-theory-3/behavioral-perspectives-30/the-human-side-hawthorne-170-8381/
Lieberman, S. (n.d.). Stress Management in the Workplace: Take Stress for a Ride . Retrieved from http://www.simmalieberman.com/: http://www.simmalieberman.com/articles/takestressride.html
Loehr, J. E. (1997). Stress for Success. United States of America: Crown Business.
Posen, D. (2013). Is Work Killing You? Ontario, Canada: House of Anansi Press Inc.
Spera, S., & Lanto, S. (1997). Beat Stress with Strength: A Survival Guide for Work and Life. Indianapolis, IN: Park Avenue Productions.