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Commentary: Are you a Stressor, Or A Stress Reliever?

Look at yourself, what do you see?

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

A recent article pointed out that approximately 1 million employees call in sick each day because of stress-related illness. Roll that number around in your mind for a moment. Think about the impact this has on organizations, families and of course most importantly the health of the employee; both today and in the future. 

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By definition, there is stress in everyday life. Each day we face and are confronted with:

• Deadlines

• Customer Issues

• Competition

• Job Insecurity

• Long Hours

• Working for a leader who manages by fear

Indeed, stress affects job performance, morale, quality, customer relations, attitudes and turn over. The leadership style, tone, communication style, lack of support, unrealistic deadlines; all of this can contribute to a stressful work environment. 

A key employee de-stressor is listening. Permit employees to be honest with their problems and stress factors. A stress reliever is keenly aware of workplace stressors, and that happy and healthy employees are more positive, tackling workplace stress head-on. They watch and listen to employee issues and conditions.

A key stress reducer is meaningful work and job satisfaction, as human beings we all seek a professional purpose. Leaders who stay calm when the heat is on are role models for handling stress; making it easier for employees to follow suit. It is critical to consult employees in order to address specific factors that make jobs more stressful.

Sharing information with employees can reduce uncertainty about their jobs and their future. Communicating one-on-one so that employees know they are being heard, and in fact understood; will certainly reduce stress. Paramount is fostering a culture of zero harassment, and that respect and dignity of each employee is a company value and commitment.

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Traits Of A Stressful Leader (Manager)

• They suffer from being incapable of acknowledgement that they are human like most of us, and make mistakes (can you relate?)

• They always lookout for No. 1

• It is their way or the highway

• They talk more and listen less

• The tend to lack empathy

• Micromanage

• Insight fear

• Establish unrealistic expectations

• Can be rude, and shut others down

• Often times are incompetent

Reflect for a moment, given the current situation our work lives now blend with our personal lives; it is more critical then ever that leaders accept the role of being a stress reducer. It is imperative that they reduce drama and blame from the workday; they must instill courage and believe in people. A positive leader sets the example by focusing on one thing at a time and assists employees in prioritizing their task list. More importantly they do not aim for perfection. A positive leader understands the difference between a good performance and perfection. They work each day to nurture and establish positive relationships, all the while getting to know their employees. It is important to set clear job requirements and avoid conflict if at all possible; as well as seek collaboration.

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True leaders encourage employees to multitask less, although difficult indeed given the technology we all utilize each day. With the way the world is now, as a motivator, schedule a zoom happy hour or birthday party to improve morale. A stress-reducing leader will attempt to eliminate negative words from their vocabulary and will always be keenly aware that work life stress effects the employee and their families. They practice mindfulness, which is the ability to pay attention to the present moment with curiosity, open mindedness and acceptance and share that trait with others. 

Remember, life and business is like a team sport. Each of us has an important role to play in reducing stress. Start today – be a healer, not a harmer.

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