What Stresses Managers?

Managing large budgets, major projects, risky investments and teams brings a lot of stress. We discuss this subject, still tabo. Pressure stresses manager.

The forgotten stress at work

Managers today have to be concerned about the mental health of their employees. But their own stress is often overlooked. However, one in five managers suffer from psychological distress, according to a study conducted by the Université de Montréal. Asking for help is still interpreted as a confession of weakness on their part, stress management being a part of the job requirements.

Caught between a rock and a hard place

“Stress arises from a feeling of loss of control when faced with an excessive workload and a desire to excel,” explains Nathalie Joannette, an organizational guidance counsellor. An unclear mandate, deadlines that are too tight, increased availability by email/telephone – management requires more to be done faster in a world of work transformed by technology. If the manager’s training and support is deficient, the situation can quickly deteriorate.

Managing team tensions and increasing employee expectations can also generate anxiety. “Employees no longer accept old management methods,” says the counsellor. “Dissatisfaction also increases with the labour shortage. There is a lack of people to do tasks well.” And what about recognition in all this? While managers are asked to demonstrate this to their teams, the converse is not always the rule.

When nothing happens

Too much stress can create a paralysis in management of a company. “Human beings protect themselves through three mechanisms: avoidance, surrender or competing,” explains Ms. Joannette. In the case of avoidance, the manager locks himself in his bubble. His performance deteriorates, he no longer makes decisions, he cancels meetings and no longer collaborates. Managers who “give in” meanwhile get extra work by taking on the whole workload so that everything will be perfect, and they risk burnout. Those who “compete” are irritable: their employees often feel threatened or guilty.”

Escaping the vicious circle

Stress is inevitable. But you can learn “to self-regulate your emotions and then take action by adopting a healthy management style that respects your values,” advises Nathalie Joannette. Accepting your strengths and weaknesses while developing collaboration helps unblock the situation. Also, “the manager has to take the time to reflect on the meaning he gives to his work and to develop new strategies.”

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