On the Job

‘Boss Blues’ – are you causing them?

As managers, it can be hard to imagine we’re the root of employee stress. But think back over your career and the types of management styles you’ve worked with.

Some managers might have been empathic, nurturing and supportive. Others were inflexible, uncaring or unsure.

Management style — good or bad — has a direct effect on employee wellbeing and morale. So how can we ensure we create an employee environment that encourages our team members to reach their highest potential?

Here are five management behaviors that can help your employees on their paths to success.

1. Treat your team like people.
Small actions can encourage employees to speak up — and feel valued when they do. An open-door policy is a good place to start. Yes, it’s easier said than done — especially when you’ve got a lot of your own work to deliver — but it sets the tone for team culture.

Leading with empathy also humanizes your team interactions. If possible, offer flexibility in hours, workload, or location to help your people manage their work/life balance. They’ll thank you for recognizing they have a life outside of work. It can boost their individual productivity, too.

2. Communicate and manage workloads.
Unclear direction and unruly workloads can be a direct cause of employee stress. If your employees feel overwhelmed by what’s on their plate, help them identify and prioritize which of their assigned tasks is most important.

Take a problem-solving approach to leading. When people have questions, talk through how you’re solving the problem so they’ll know what to do in a similar situation. This collaborative approach will help empower your employees and take some of the burden off you.

3. Recognize stress.
While each employee may respond to stress differently, there are several common indicators. If you think you’ve spotted warning signs, encourage an honest and open conversation about what he or she needs and how you can meet those needs.

Let employees do the talking before you “diagnose” their stress. They may provide you with ideas on how you can better support them as a manager. Meanwhile, remain open-minded and agreeable to finding solutions for them.

4. Be responsible and show respect.
It’s normal to get frustrated with your staff from time to time, but it’s important to not to lose your consideration for others and manage emotions appropriately. Venting frustration on employees can lead to additional workplace stress — an environment you want to avoid at all costs.

Instead, seize the opportunity to lead by example. You’ll gain more respect and give your employees someone to look up to professionally.

5. Offer conflict management support.
Managing conflict can be a challenge for some people. Where you see difficult situations arising and affecting your team, offer support first and foremost. If needed, take responsibility for helping resolve the issue.

Be a mentor to employees as well. Provide support and offer advice on how to overcome workplace challenges. Showing interest in your employees will help build healthy relationships so people feel comfortable coming to you with problems.

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