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How Leaders Can Push Employees Without Stressing Them Out

If you’re a broker or team leader, you may think that as the manager, you deal with the most stress and pressure in your company. However, a recent study from Harvard Business Review shows that people who most often become leaders are 30% less likely than their peers to feel stressed out.

Other researchers have also found that managers typically feel less stress than their employees do. Factors like status, autonomy, and job security tend to be higher for managers than for employees, which work to offset managers’ perceptions of stress.

The Leader’s Dilemma

Here lies the great “leader’s dilemma”: how to secure the highest output from your employees without mounting stress to the point of diminishing returns. Great leaders are able to push employees to their fullest potential and increase productivity without causing undue stress and anxiety.

They do so by providing support and positive feedback to build respect, commitment, and cooperation within the team. This creates a safe environment where employees feel appreciated, and therefore, cooperative and productive.

Studies show that when managers create a safe and supportive environment, employees tend to feel more connected to that manager, perform at a higher level, and experience less stress than those who feel unattached to their boss.

Sounds obvious, right? Unfortunately, the high rates of stress and low rates of engagement in businesses show that even though it all seems like common sense, not enough bosses are doing this.

5 Methods To Pushing Talent And Reduce Stress

1) Provide Certainty and Clarity

To the best of your abilities, provide certainty and clarity around job roles, responsibilities, expectations, compensation, lines of reporting, and any relevant information or significant changes to the company. Does everyone in your team know exactly what their responsibilities are (and aren’t)? Have you provided set goals for them to work towards, and what would constitute a salary increase?

This should be a no-brainer, and are considered the minimum requirements that a leader should set for their team members. They don’t directly guarantee employee motivation, but without them, you’re likely to have disgruntled employees.

In terms of sharing company news, while there will always be elements that are privileged for the “higher ups,” sharing relevant information with your team should be standard practice. Don’t act as the bottleneck or gatekeeper of information. Your team may begin to resent you for appearing to use your power to control the flow of information.

2) Be Fair

When we talk about fairness, we are talking about process fairness, which differs from outcome fairness. Outcome fairness refers to an employee’s judgment of the final results of their exchanges with their managers. Process fairness doesn’t mean that employees always get the results they want, but it does mean that they have a chance to be heard.

There are three drivers that determine process fairness in the workplace.

1) How much input employees believe they have in the decision-making process.
Are their opinions valued and taken into consideration?
2) How employees believe decisions are made and implemented.
Are decisions processed consistently and based on accurate information?
Are employees given ample notice?
Is the decision process transparent?
3) How managers behave and report their decisions?
Are managers listening to employees’ concerns while explaining their decisions, or are they just getting defensive?
Do they treat employees respectfully, empathizing with their points of view, or just blindly exercising their power?

When employees feel that they are being treated unfairly, they can suffer anxiety, assign blame, and become stressed and unmotivated. Leaders can show fairness by spending equal time with team members, listening to everyone at meetings, explaining your decision-making more clearly, and recognizing when an employee may feel unjustly treated.

3) Recognize Their Achievements

Again, that sounds easy in theory, but it isn’t so in practice. Results from workplace surveys and reviews from over 7,000 people found that managers avoided giving praise more than they avoided giving criticism! 37% admitted they didn’t give their teams any positive reinforcement.

The researchers concluded that managers often feel that it’s their job to inform their direct reports of bad news and correct them when they make a mistake, but that taking the time to provide positive feedback is optional.

However, the research suggests that employees place a greater emphasis on receiving positive feedback – and that it affects their relationship with their leader even more than negative feedback does. Continued negative feedback can lead to low morale, stress, and a loss of motivation to do good work.

So start recognizing your team members for all their achievements, not just their mistakes and failures. Thanking them for hitting a sales goal, completing all their to-do’s, spending time prospecting leads, or staying late.

4) Show Competence And Earn Respect

There’s a difference between earning respect and trying to demand it from your employees. Hint: demanding anything usually doesn’t go well. It’s important for leaders to demonstrate their competency through hard work, innovative ideas, and willingness to take on challenges.

Employees want to see that their efforts and stresses are felt all the way up the ladder, and these demonstrations don’t go unnoticed. Employees want to know that their managers “have their backs” and aren’t just looking out for themselves. Leaders who can create a foundation of trust alleviate tensions in the workplace.

5) Follow Through On Your Promises

It’s important that leaders set prime examples of thoroughly executing on the commitments they make to the people they support. Too much stress is caused from worrying about the lack of follow-through on the claims and promises made by managers.

If you can’t keep your promises, then you shouldn’t make them. Or, find a way to keep track of them so you can actually remember them and follow through. Your employees will remember every time you forget or neglect a promise, even if it was not done intentionally.

Employees expect management to fulfill its commitments, and that begins with being a leader that provides clear direction, makes fair decisions, remembers their accomplishments, shows competence, and keeps their word. As the saying goes, treat people the way you want to be treated.

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