Why Are Things so Tense Around Here?

“If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.”—Norman Vincent Peale

Stress doesn’t have boundaries. It doesn’t seep into one aspect of life but stop at others. When managers become stressed at work; when they become so consumed with their own work that they forget about those they manage, it affects the entire team. Managers need to remember they aren’t the only ones that become overwhelmed and stressed. In order to shape more positive outcomes and productivity, managers must take a step back. Here are some signs from PrideStaff Financial that it’s time to take a step back and help your team deal with their stress.


Sudden lack of concentration/incomplete assignments:

As employees become more stressed or anxious at work, they tend to focus less on actual work assignments and more on their internal angst. Evaluate each project based on whether or not it’s identified with your team’s organizational purpose, what they’re good at, and what’s important to the larger goals of the organization. It’s a manager’s responsibility to develop action plans that allow everyone to be more productive and to insulate teams from low-priority work that may trickle down from senior management. When a new assignment comes your team’s way, don’t automatically take it on and pass it down. Evaluate whether this project is a good fit for what your team does and its priority level among the other assignments already in the “to-do” pile. 


Change in employee normal behavior:

Irritability, being withdrawn, falling asleep during team meetings, and lack of communication from the normal are all indicators that a team member might be overwhelmed or stressed. The first step is to identify the contribution your team makes to the organization. Don’t answer this alone, involve the team. Allow all members to help identify what value each member has to the team, and what the team offers to the organization that only they can contribute. This becomes your guide for what work team members should take on and what they should let go. It also helps those team members who are struggling to re-center and refocus; it allows them to take things off their overloaded plate and to realign with the team’s overall mission and purpose. However, make sure you also pull each team member into your office separately to discuss what you can do to help them individually.


An increase in cynicism or complaining:

Constant negativity from someone who once was a source of encouragement for the rest of the team is probably feeling the effects of stress. This eventually affects the entire team, especially if nothing is done about it. When this happens, it’s best to get to the root of the situation right away. Communicate with the employee; find out what is affecting their performance and attitude. It could be a personal situation; a lack of challenge or boredom with current work; too much on their plate for too long, any number of things could have triggered this change in your top team members. This opens the door for you to step in and show your support and awareness as the manager. Offer solutions that involve a more balanced work load; give a more challenging assignment that might have been tasked for management, and tailor back unnecessary team meetings.


As a manager, it’s your responsibility to balance your own work priorities with those of your staff. They rely on you to help them through challenging or stressful busy seasons, and ultimately if your team is stressed, productivity takes a hit. Lead by example and show your team you care!


PrideStaff Financial is one of the nation’s leading recruiting firms. Our staffing consultants can help you navigate team stress and burnout. Contact us to learn more.