How to Help Your Team With Stress, Burnout

photo of consultant Angie Herbers

Under normal circumstances, stressful periods tend to be moments in time rather than drawn out events. But in today’s pandemic-fueled world, most people have been experiencing stressful situations for months.

As we approach the holidays, more stressors are being added to our lives. At work, employees are entering into a time crunch to get projects and client reviews finished before year end. Outside of work, people have the added stress of preparing for the holidays and kids at home.

All this is fueling deeper burnout within advisory firms. With that, these stressors are adding to low energy of employees and for an advisor owner, it’s critical to understand the effects of these stressors on performance.

Here I’d like to discuss how to achieve the right balance between too little or too much stress and how leaders can help their employees and professional advisors overcome it.

Ties Between Stress & Performance

First, a leader has to understand that prior stressful situations tend to show how people will deal with stress in the future. Simply put, you need to know your employees.

Part of the role of a leader is to assess stress levels, but unfortunately there are innumerable outside factors that can create stress that we have no control over. All of those stressors, whether related to work or not, can affect an advisor’s business.

Advisory firms, for instance, have no control over the stock market and yet it directly impacts revenue. Each person deals with their own problems and people in their life that create stress, and those personal issues also easily can affect work performance.

The reason leaders have to become good at assessing stress levels, especially in these times, is because they also have to get into the habit of bringing those levels down when they can.

As leaders, we can’t always know or ask about the stressors in an employee’s life, but we can always be compassionate toward our people. The trick is knowing how to provide direction to help people manage their stress in an effective way.

Balancing Stress

As a leader, your goal shouldn’t be to remove or eliminate all stress from your life or that of your employees. Instead, the focus should be to leverage stress in an effective way and lead it rather than let it lead you.

The question becomes, then, how to maintain a balance between too much and too little stress? It requires understanding yourself and your actions.

To do that, here are some helpful questions to assess your stress and help others assess theirs within your culture.

Ask These Questions

  • Are you being realistic about goal setting?
  • Are you taking one step at a time, rather than trying to do to many things at once?
  • Are you balancing at-work with hobbies and/or creative projects?
  • Are you eating according to body size and needs?
  • Are you taking regular breaks to exercise?
  • Are you trying to do too much at once? If so, what is one thing you can accomplish to keep a goal moving forward?
  • Are you getting in a hurry to get things done?
  • Are you allowing yourself and staff time to think and process change without telling people what they should or should not be doing?
  • Are you creating unrealistic high expectations?
  • Are you working too many hours?
  • Are you skipping meals?
  • Are you working without breaks?

Only you can know when you’ve reached your maximum level of stress. Routinely assessing yourself with these questions can help guard against overextending yourself and suffering the consequences of extreme burnout.

As a leader, you can help your employees manage their stress by engaging them compassionately and offering help with or solutions for the work-related issues that you can directly control.

By knowing your team relationally and understanding their individual stress levels, your entire company will benefit.

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