The impact of stress in the workplace has known consequences to both employers and employees alike. Rising healthcare costs, increased turnover, decreased productivity, anxiety, cardiac issues, irritability, and a toxic work environment are just a few examples. Everyone feels the impact of stress at work in some way or form.
In parallel, you have first line managers, who manage over 80% of the workforce, in a position to contribute to reducing at least some of that stress. But the harsh reality is, in managerial surveys, from 45% to 60% of managers say they have not received formal management training.
There is urgency to equip our first-line managers with basic management training, but also with stress management techniques to manage their own stress and to help their employees to reduce their stress. That’s why I wrote my just-published book, Compassionate Management: Reducing Stress at Work.
As a first-line manager, you don’t have to wait for your employer to pay for your training. It’s great when you can get it – but you can take your destiny in your own hands and learn management and stress management techniques which will help you be more effective in managing yourself, your team and the daily conflict which is a reality in most managers’ lives.
Taking a compassionate management approach is something anyone can do, regardless of the environment of the company they are in. For me, finding my way to compassionate management was critical to my well-being and my self-esteem. I learned, through trial and error as well as through much education (both employer-provided and often self-driven) the critical importance of communication, collaboration and cultivating team members I was leading.
When you create an environment for your team where the team works together, shares ideas and experiences with active communication and collaboration, people feel heard and the level of engagement, participation and motivation go up exponentially. When you add a focus on personal development to that recipe, employee satisfaction and motivation are boosted that much more.
I have found that a lot of good management starts with self-awareness. It’s important to understand yourself and be aware of the impact you have on others. That is the first step towards being able to put yourself in anyone’s shoes, which is an essential foundation of compassion.
Learning how stress works is a good way to start becoming more aware of the impact stress is having in your day to day work life, both on yourself and on your team. Automatic thinking, which often translates to negative thinking patterns, is a big culprit to increasing stress levels. Once you understand the cycle, it is possible to intervene and avoid letting potential emotional triggers lead you to stress-driven bad behavior.
Learning to communicate effectively – to adapt communication style to your audience, to be an active listener, and to understand how stress and high emotions impacts communication – is also a foundational element for managers.
Creating an environment where communication is the norm and collaboration is part of the team’s DNA is not as hard as you may think, but it does take focus and effort. That’s where having a solid management system comes into play. So many managers have good intentions but don’t have a system in place to ensure that meet both short term and long-term obligations.
Finally, if you don’t take care of your own career, it’s hard to help your employees to do the same. Learn how to create your career vision and career plan, and then share that with your team. In today’s environment of fast-paced change, keeping skills current is an ongoing task you can’t afford to ignore – for yourself or for your team.
In short, compassionate management is all about taking care of yourself as well as taking care of your team. But that doesn’t mean only focusing on the good. It also means addressing attitude and performance issues and helping each individual to give the best of themselves to their job.
You too can be a compassionate manager. Check out the book, or the online course on Udemy, both chock full of tips and tricks but also with individual exercises you can complete to become the compassionate manager you want to be.