Workplace Minute – Workplace Stress

It’s normal to get stressed out time to time at the workplace. It is how you handle the stress that determines the gravity of the situation.

Here are a few tips to help improve and banish workplace stress:

  • Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
  • Learn to manage your emotions instead of letting them manage you.
  • Remind yourself of what’s really important in life.
  • Try looking at situations from different points of view.
  • Learn to say “no.”
  • Stop procrastinating.
  • Avoid negative people as much as possible.
  • Get clear on your life goals and take a small step toward those goals every day.
  • Learn to prioritize.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Don’t try to control what is uncontrollable.

These along with previously mentioned tips: Workplace Minute – Workplace Stress (Nov.) can help alleviate some of that stress and get you moving in the right direction.

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Workplace Minute – Workplace Stress

MINUTEHow to BANISH workplace stress:

  • Practice daily meditation
  • Release physical tension
  • Use constructive language in every interaction
  • Set positive intentions and stick with them
  • Evaluate your coping mechanisms
  • Be compassionate with yourself and others

How does your boss stack up?

On June 18th we discussed the characteristics of a disengaged employee. Today we are going to cover the characteristics that make a terrible boss!

We have all been there before (or are currently living it) where we work or have worked with a manager that was absolutely dreadful. It’s unfortunate but there are are quite a few awful bosses out there and though you may love what you do, they can make for a horrible workplace experience.

The below infographic designed by OfficeVibe titled 12 Annoying Characteristics of a Horrible Boss covers what makes a boss… horrible.

Below the infographic is additional information on each of the characteristics.

How does your boss stack up? 

horrible-boss-infographic

1. Control
A horrible boss tends to focus on assigning busy work to employees without having to or feeling the need to explain why. They don’t motivate or encourage a better workforce and more often than not feedback is not encouraged.

This characteristic reflects a major difference between a boss and a leader. A leader motivates their employees and encourages growth, ideas, and feedback.

2. Indecisive
Horrible managers are often indecisive in what they want completed out of certain tasks. They do not analyze and do not reflect on the outcome but rather go on a whim and think that things are a “great idea” and run with it without considering the pros and cons.

Following through is often not a strong point. Since their initial focus is not on the outcome they don’t want to be blamed if the task were to fail because it will look bad on them.

A great leader on the other hand will evaluate the situation and make the call if a decision will better the company. Leaders aren’t afraid to fail, rather they see it as a learning experience to gain valuable insight from and move on to something new.

3. Stubborn
They aren’t interested in your ideas nor do they want to hear your opinion. Sometimes they even disregard your potentially better idea and then call it their own.

Stubborn managers are extremely difficult to deal with. From an employee aspect, it is difficult to work with a stubborn manager and from a company aspect, it affects the growth of the company negatively.

Leaders encourage ideas. They want their employees to think outside the box and if there is a better way to do something, leaders want their employees to talk about it. Leaders are open-minded enough to that everyone in the office are equals and should be respected as such. Have a new idea? Bring it to the table, let’s talk about it, that is what a leader would want you to do.

4. Resist Change
Poor management doesn’t adapt to change very well. They would much rather have an environment that is static and not change processes within the office.

It is true that many people don’t like change but as a manager it is essential to embrace change.

Growing as a business requires the business and management to constantly reinvent the office environment and business, not only for the employees, for the customers, as well as the health and well-being of the company.

5. Micromanage  
If there is one environment that I cannot personally work in is one that the manager micromanages.

A manager that is constantly pestering you about your work whether it is regarding the quality or quantity of what has been done or what is left is quite impossible. Not only are they demotivating their employees but they are ruining the quality of the employees work.

Some of the best places to work are the companies that enforce employee autonomy. These companies give their employees the freedom to accomplish more tasks and do it to their liking.

6. Lead by Fear
In the past, leading by fear was quite common and there are still some horrible managers who use this tactic. This type of management does not work anymore.

A leader leads through inspiration, not intimidation. The modern workplace is a lot more liberal and doesn’t use fear as a form of management.

If you work for a company that encourages or allows this form of management, the company culture is damaged and you may want to consider other options.

7. Visionless
A horrible boss is a boss that doesn’t see the long term vision, rather, they focus only on short term fixes (band-aids).

A lack of vision gives no direction to the employees and can bring down the moral of colleagues.

Great bosses tend to have a roadmap of what to do for the coming weeks, months, and even years.

8. Favoritism
There is no room in the workplace for nepotism (defined: the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.) and bosses shouldn’t be choosing favorites in the office.

I am a firm believer (as I have learned through experience) that a manager can make friends with employees, however they have to know when to separate personal friendships from business (and this fact goes both ways).

Leaders often see any personal relationship they make with a person as an add-on to being a colleague. Leaders can differentiate work and personal stuff, and they often try to do their best to establish a great relationship with everyone at their office. 

9. Arrogance
An arrogant boss can ruin the workplace with their personality because it is these bosses that walk around the office acting like they are the most powerful person in the world.

There is no room for this type of behavior in the workplace. Great leaders tend to check their ego at the door.

Working as a team is essential and working with your team is essential to have engaged workers. It’s not always about personal accomplishments, it’s about accomplishments as a whole.

10. Angry
Angry bosses… well that’s a great way to ruin everybody’s day. They think because they’ve obtained a position of power, they can berate, belittle, and treat others wrong.

Real leaders don’t let emotions get the best of them. They also know the importance of a good workplace environment.

11. Blame-Shifter
They are also known as finger-pointers. Similar to someone who makes excuses all the time, this type of manager will place blame on others instead of taking it on themselves. 

A great leader is able to hone up to any mistakes that they make, and even more impressive, they’ll often time take blame for any mistakes that employees have made. Just because they were not there to correct any mistakes.

12. Driven by Emotion
A horrible boss is driven by emotion. Decisions that are made by emotion without thinking through the process more often than not are the wrong decision.

A great leader keeps their emotions in check. They use rational thoughts when making decisions.

Dealing with a difficult boss? Here’s my story… and some steps to help you manage a difficult boss.

While I was tapping into my creative place trying to come up with a new topic to blog about (I have to keep my readers interested), I thought… hmmmm… what is the one person/thing that every employee has to encounter EVERYDAY of their working life? The answer… THE BOSS.

Every workplace is different. In my experience I have encountered some very interesting bosses. Early in my career, I didn’t exactly know how to deal with some personalities. It made my days at work quite long and dreadful.

This is a great opportunity to explain how a difficult boss got me into the Human Resources profession.

I had a boss that was not very pleasant to deal with. She excelled in the art of micromanaging, she had the ability to give you 12 tasks to do in a span of five minutes to have done within the hour (and expect it to be done… IN AN HOUR.) To top it off, she spoke to her staff like they were not worthy of her presence. She was condescending and rude. She was everything you wouldn’t want to work for and I was fortunate enough to work for her, as her assistant. (Lucky me.)

I never had an issue with saying “no” to my boss if it was a task that I was being asked to do and was an unrealistic expectation. I would never set myself up to fail so saying “no” wasn’t an act of defiance, rather, it was to prevent from being put into a position that would negatively affect my performance. She did not like that I had no problem with saying “no”. This was reflected in my performance review that she decided to send to me via e-mail. Along with the performance review attachment was an email that said, “Please review and sign”.

I think you would agree when I say email isn’t the way you handle a performance review. I printed out the performance review, walked to her office, placed it on her desk, sat down and said to her, “Are you ready to discuss this with me?” (She was also the type of boss that did not like confrontation.) She said to me there was no need to discuss this and left her office. I then proceeded to the Director of Human Resources (HR) to discuss what had occurred and for advice on how to handle the situation. The Director of HR listened, gave me advice that clearly would not work with a boss that avoided confrontation and I went back to my desk pretty frustrated about what had occurred.

About an hour and a half later, my boss comes to my desk to tell me, verbatim, what I had discussed with the Director of HR. (Looks like they had plenty to talk about when they went off to lunch.) So what I thought was a confidential conversation, because I personally expressed to the Director of HR that I did not want this discussed with my boss, turned out to be the topic of discussion over Einstein Bagels. As you can imagine, at this point I kinda looked like this…

angrySo now, who is there to go to? I can’t communicate with my boss and I can’t trust the organizations Human Resources Department.

I decided to turn a negative into a positive. I went straight to my Director of HR’s office, asked if she had a moment and proceeded to sit down. It was a short conversation expressing my knowledge of the information she had shared (which she verbalized that she ASKED my boss not to disclose that she spoke to her about it… they were best friends) and I also took the opportunity to thank her. Looking confused she asked why? I let her know that because of this situation I have decided to change my major to business and human resources. I decided at that moment that I wanted to pursue a position as the Director of Human Resources at an organization and ensure that NO EMPLOYEE under my management will be subjected to such horrendous practices.

I vowed that when I became a Human Resources professional, my priority would be to give employees an opportunity to have a Human Resources Department they can count on when an employee is having workplace issues or needs general advice.

Soon after this experience, I was offered a job in Human Resources and the rest is history! I continued my education, received my Master’s degree in Human Resources Development and after graduation worked my way up to a Director of Human Resources role. My daily professional goal is to maintain the integrity of my department through a good balance between being a trusted employee advocate and a strategic partner.

My story was the path leading to our topic, which is, to discuss the best way to handle a difficult boss because a difficult boss can hinder your performance and negatively affect your future within your organization. Successfully managing a difficult boss can be challenging but it’s often feasible.

Difficult Boss

Here are some steps to help you manage a difficult boss:

Try to understand the reasons for your boss’ difficult behavior.
If your boss’ attitude is a result of stress overload, chances are the behavior that can be modified. However, if your boss tends to just be on a serious power trip, this may be more difficult to change. It’s this type of behavior that you may be better off seeking counsel from a trusted mentor or human resources professional to discuss your options.

Manage your own negative emotions regarding his/her behavior so that you do not engage in self-defeating behavior.
Don’t act on emotions. Wait before confronting your boss regarding his/her behavior until your emotions are at bay. Try not to contribute to the problem by stonewalling or counter-attacking your boss. This will hurt you in the long run. Try to separate your personal ego from your business persona. Do not take their behavior personal.

Work to communicate your issues/concerns, framed in a helpful, positive manner, creating an atmosphere for problem resolution.
You have to feel comfortable communicating your issues with your boss. This type of work relationship is essential in order to maintain a harmonious work environment. The key here is to discuss the CONCERNS and not confront your boss. There is a difference. You need to carry out the discussion of your concerns and not directly attack your boss.

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!
Make sure to document interactions with your boss, be it requests or criticisms, so you can refer back to them if he/she ever contradicts his/herself.

If you let a toxic boss treat you in a non-professional way, they will take you on that opportunity. MedMD suggest the following skills for coping with a difficult boss. Be sure to practice basic self-care. Ground yourself with positive thought patterns, regular exercise, and plenty of rest. In tough times, self-care is non-negotiable. Be sure to set boundaries. Other people can only affect you if you allow them to do so. It’s your responsibility to “filter” and manage negative thoughts. Lastly, optimize communication. Create a kind of “verbal agreement” to effectively support your boss, so you can both get the job done.

It is not an uncommon feeling for an employee to feel like they have no one to turn to when they are working with a difficult boss.  I encourage you to try to rectify the matter yourself before moving up the chain of command. If you are in a predicament where you feel confiding with someone else at your organization will negatively affect you, discuss with a family member or a close friend and get their input. Also, network with other Human Resources Professionals to get an outside-in perspective and some advice on how to deal with your particular situation.

 

References:
-Managing Your Boss. (n.d.). http://www.apa.org. Retrieved May 20, 2014, from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/boss.aspx
-Feature, S. (n.d.). Work it Out: Dealing with a Difficult Boss. WebMD. Retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/dealing-with-a-difficult-boss

Mindfulness Practices To Take Control Of Workplace Problems

For each of these pesky workplace problems, try the recommended practice and enjoy the benefit.

*Click on the photo for a better view*
Mindfulness Table

Published in the April 2013 issue of Mindful Magazine as a part of an article titled “Is Mindfulness Good for Business?

Reference:
Hunter, J. (2013, June 3). Mindfulness Practices To Take Control Of Workplace Problems (INFOGRAPHIC). . Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/2699167

Overwhelmed by workplace stress? You are NOT alone…

According to The American Institute of Stress numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. According to a poll conducted in 2007 by the American Psychological Association, three-quarters of Americans list work as a significant source of stress, with over half of them indicating that their work productivity suffered due to stress.

Stress Pie Chart

Stress can significantly impact your emotional health as well as physical health. People have experienced physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, feelings of irritability, anger, nervousness and lack of motivation. It can also lead to using unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, comfort eating, poor diet choices, and drinking alcohol to manage their stress. Such behavior can lead to long-term, serious health problems.

Your ability to deal with it can mean the difference between success or failure. Effectively coping with job stress can benefit both your professional and personal life.

Mayo Clinic suggests the following to help take charge of your workplace stress:

Identify your stress triggers
For a week or two, record situations, events and people who cause you to have a negative physical, mental or emotional response. Consider the following then evaluate your stress inventory.

  • Where were you?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was your reaction?
  • How did you feel?

Tackle your stress triggers
Once you’ve identified your stress triggers, consider each situation or event and look for ways to resolve it. Find a way to change the circumstances that are causing it.

Sharpen your time management skills
In addition to identifying and tackling specific stress triggers, it’s often helps to improve your time management skills so you don’t always feel overwhelmed or under the gun at work. This can be done by setting realistic goals, making a priority list, and protecting your time.

Keep perspective
When you’re in a stressful workplace situation it’s important to maintain perspective. Talk to a trusted colleague or friend and get other points of view. Sometime stepping out for personal time can make a world of a difference. Make the most of your break time and treat yourself to vacations or the occasional long weekend. Have an outlet, this helps to prevent burnout. Set aside time for activities you enjoy. Most importantly, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great publication on workplace stress. It can be found by clicking on the below link:

STRESS… at work

Also included below is a fantastic infographic from “The Salary Reporter” outlining the affects of workplace stress and some tips on how to deal with it.

Workplace Stress

References:
-Workplace Stress. (n.d.). The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/
-Overwhelmed by Workplace Stress? You’re not alone. (n.d.). http://www.apa.org. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/work-stress.aspx
-Stress management. (n.d.). Coping with stress: Workplace tips. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/coping-with-stress/art-20048369?pg=2
-What Causes Workplace Stress — And What You Can Do About It [infographic]. (n.d.).What Causes Workplace Stress — And What You Can Do About It [infographic]. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2012/09/what-causes-workplace-stress-and-what-you-can-do-about-it-infographic