For those who have never experienced it firsthand, or witnessed it from nearby, scientific research has shown that work can be a considerable source of stress.
This stress can manifest itself in the form of emotions (e.g. anxiety and depression), cognitive performance (e.g. in decision-making), negative behaviors (e.g. unhealthy eating habits, alcohol and drug abuse, aggression), and physical symptoms (e.g. high blood pressure, neck-, head- and shoulder pain).
Not only does stress have a negative impact on individual employees, absenteeism and low engagement for instance can seriously impact the performance of their organizations as well.
The popularity of resilience training in the workplace has dramatically increased in the last couple of years (particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic), and there is evidence that, if done in the right format, this training can help individuals in certain target groups to deal with stress.
The problem is that resilience training is almost always only a part of the solution, and that is almost meaningless if offered in isolation to mitigate work-related stress.
When I had just been appointed in my first proper line management role, I decided to organize an offsite with my team. The purpose of this offsite was to finalize the development of a number of HR policies and processes.
Around 11 o’clock in the first morning, in a characterless conference room in the basement of the conference center, we completed our first round of brainstorming. When the time came to write up the output of our first session in a flow chart format, I said I wanted to use a specific methodology I had used as a management consultant, and would be happy to do the write-up.
One of my direct reports looked disappointed, because she wanted to create the flowcharts herself, but a colleague of hers consoled her, and said: ‘Sure, if Dirk knows how to do it and has a strong passion for it, why do we not let him do so?’ The others agreed, and they left the room to leave me to it.
I spend the next 1.5 hours working on my own in the aforementioned characterless conference room in the basement. When I was ready I went upstairs to look for my team. I found them on the terrace, enjoying the sun, cappuccinos, orange juice, and each other’s company.
Fortunately enough they thought my work was ok…
Do it yourself?
A lot of leaders frequently want to do the work of their direct reports. They have a variety of reasons for this, including