Look after the wellbeing of your team
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Managing your team’s wellbeing
By Mark Wager
It was seventeen years ago when I was working as a Broker Sales Manager in a London Finance House. I was given a lift home late one night by one of my fellow Managers, Andy. Both of us were in our early twenties, had lots of disposable income and enjoyed our lifestyle or so I thought. The car stopped at the traffic lights and during our usual ‘shop” talk Andy just placed his head down onto the steering wheel and just started crying. It was during the following weeks that I learned that Andy had been suffering from stress for a long time and was severely depressed. This shocked me as Andy was always the cheery member of the team and known as the life of the party but it was the next day that I had the biggest shock. I walked into the Finance House still in shock with how much stress Andy was under and trying to contemplate how the office would operate without him. The office gathered together to hear the Managing Director give a brief statement about how Andy was ill and would be off for a few weeks. The speech lasted less than a couple of minutes and the office went back to its business as if nothing had happened. During the days and weeks that followed the office carried on as before and business never dropped without Andy there. We never saw Andy again.
As leaders we need to be aware of the wellbeing of our team. It doesn’t matter if we operate within a high-pressured industry or a laid-back one, stress can build up on people with disastrous results both for the individual and for the business. As leaders it’s our responsibility to be aware of this risk and there are several simple things that we can build into our working week that can help.
Talk to your team about non-work related matters.
People can become so focussed on work that they allow their job to define them. How many times have you been at a party and whenever someone gets introduced to someone else its always here’s ...[insert name] and he/she is ....[insert job]. When we allow something else other than ourselves to define us then an uneven amount of importance is placed on that thing so when something goes wrong our reaction is out of proportion. A similar thing happens when relationships break-up.
Talk to your team, ask them about what they do outside of work their families, their interest and passions you will be amazed at some of the stories you were unaware of. It is healthy for people to be viewed as people and not as an asset.
Make sure people take breaks
During the day everyone needs to refocus and recharge their batteries. You will always hear people say -" I don't have time for a break, " yet the truth is that we can't afford not to have breaks. If we don't we just become less and less effective and the only thing that is benefiting is our ego that believes the office will fall apart if we stop work for ten-fifteen minutes.
Managing the external/internal pressure levels
Internal pressure is what we create ourselves and external pressure is what is placed upon us. Be very careful that you are not unknowingly placing too much pressure on your team. People need to be aware of the bigger picture but they don't need to know the pressures that go with it. As a leader it's your role to burden the worries so that other people don't but that also leads into another tip.
Take extra care of your leaders.
The main people who are most likely to get stressed without you noticing is your leader, particularly first line Managers. These people usually burden the worries of other people yet have few avenues to do likewise.
Ensure everyone knows how to get help.
Ensure your company has good relationships either with a Union or a Counselling Service so that your team has someone to talk to if they don't feel comfortable approaching you directly. Also make everyone aware of whom to escalate problems to. Don't fall into the trap of thinking everything is fine just because you don't hear anything. Sometimes the opposite is true which leads onto the next tip.
Make yourself visible.
People are people and no matter how approachable you are you will always find that people will approach you far more readily if you are physically present rather than trying to contact you via phone or email when you are working offsite. If you have multiple sites then make sure that you are visible even if it's just for 15-30 minutes. You will be amazed at what you find out.
As time moves on work life becomes faster and faster. As a result stress becomes a bigger issue in our workplace. Whether your motivation is humanitarian or profit based you can never forget how much work impacts both positivity and negative on people's life. It's a responsibility of a leader to ensure that people enjoy life beyond work because when we do, we see the benefits at the workplace.
This article is taken from the book "Elite Leadership" by Mark Wager, currently on sale for $0.99 USD for Kindle. To purchase clink on the picture below
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Posted: Monday 22 April 2013