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5 Methods Your Persistent Stress Is Affecting Your Enterprise

28, 2019

6 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Dr. Nadine Greiner's book Stress-Less Leadership. Buy it now on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple books | IndieBound or click here to buy it direct from us and SAVE 60% in this book if you use code LEAD2021 by 4/10/21.

The distinction between acute and chronic stress is important. Examples of acute stress include stress you experience after an argument with an employee, an important presentation, a bad day at work, or a short-term deadline. These events are all short-lived. In contrast, chronic stress persists and results from the constant stimulation of the body's stress response.

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between acute and chronic stress, and in many cases acute stress becomes chronic stress. The body is well prepared for acute stress. It can adapt and recover quickly. However, when stress is repeated and prolonged, the body becomes heavily stressed. Many of your body functions are overworked and can even break down. Take a few minutes to think about the following questions:

Do you have a conflict with the same employee every day? Are you exposed to constant pressure to perform? Do you repeatedly feel that you are inadequately suited to your job as a manager?

Related: 9 Ways To Deal With Work-Related Stress From Dawn To Dusk

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are likely experiencing chronic stress. As a business leader, your stressors are generally different from those of the general workforce. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the most common are:

Trying to do more in less time with fewer than adequate resources. Do you often try to do more with less and do it faster? You may have decided to move your business to another location, but you don't really have enough budget or staff to do so. Even if you have the necessary resources, you may not have enough time. When you run a publicly traded company, you are likely under high pressure to appease shareholders while you try to protect your company's infrastructure and prepare your people for long-term success. However, it is impossible to appease all stakeholders at all times and you will have to make difficult decisions. Buckle up for the ride.

How do you deal with this type of stress? It's all about focus. It can be helpful to focus on the task at hand by planning, organizing, and prioritizing. Certain behaviors like defining and clarifying task expectations and sticking to a schedule can also be a godsend. As the focus increases, the stress caused by working on a difficult task can be reduced. Better still, future stress related to upcoming tasks can be minimized or even eliminated. You have permission to take a deep breath.

Dealing with the negative aspects of personal relationships. Strong interpersonal relationships are key to a thriving business. Bad relationships between you and your co-workers have many effects. They have been shown to lower job satisfaction and increase stress and depression. In fact, bad relationships with the people you work with have been shown to affect customer demand and service. It's all a domino effect. When relationships are weak, projects and initiatives can suffer so badly that the company and its place in the market are at risk.

Related: Could Stress Be Why You Feel Like Crap?

Relationship building requires skill and constant attention. As Warren Buffett once said, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." The relationships between you and your co-workers can be improved by learning how to better manage your co-workers and effectively identify and deal with conflicts. Hosting or promoting team building events to improve personal relationships in the workplace can also be helpful.

Competition and a lack of teamwork on the part of your employees. “Toxic workers” are all too common in the workplace. They come in different forms. Overly competitive employees are one breed. They have a strong need to get to the top, and often at the expense of others. Is there someone on your team who kisses you all the time, often at someone else's expense? Other toxic workers are free riders who fail to do their fair share of the workload. In either case, the results can be devastating and stressful for you and your employees. Employees are 54 percent more likely to quit if even one toxic employee joins a team of 20 people.

Poor performance from direct reports. Poor performance is a stress factor that affects employees and managers alike. Unfortunately, tackling poor performance is often relatively little on the agenda for many executives. As long as employees follow labor law and company protocol, many managers adopt a laissez-faire attitude. The results can be crippling. Poor performance leads to decreased productivity, lower motivation and retention rates, and – you guessed it – stress.

While some performance issues should be addressed by your HR department (e.g. misconduct or constant absenteeism), most should be addressed by the employee's manager by setting clear expectations, providing adequate training, and motivating employees.

Related: Should You Or Shouldn't You About Venting Your Stress?

Inappropriate customers. Managing customer relationships is difficult. We've all heard that the customer is king. However, customers can easily distract a company's focus and cause undue stress. The most common source of stress among customers is inadequate demands and expectations. The most effective companies not only meet customer needs, they exceed them. You concentrate on the smallest details and create customer-oriented cultures. When customer requirements are too high, they push back and look for alternative solutions.

You can learn to overcome chronic stress, but it will take a concerted effort on your part to do so.

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