Is stress effecting your performance?
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James
Stress – what stress you might say!
You and your team might be suffering stress without knowing it. Stress in the workplace can lead to a decline in business and costing you sales. Why? Because everyone in your business is a salesperson from the receptionist to the accounts person to the Manager. Everyone in a business represents the business both at work and in the community. Your customers will know if you or anyone in your team is stressed. It shows in their body language, their voice, their service levels and their ability (or lack of ability) to perform to a customer’s satisfaction. Family and friends know if you are stressed, it shows in your personal life and may be wondering what the “company” is doing to you!
Time to understand what stress is and how if it affects you.
After you read this post, if you are suffering from stress or if you suspect others are suffering from stress, go see the doctor immediately.
Symptoms of work related stress
Everyone reacts to stress in the workplace differently. If you are a leader or manager, you have a duty of care to your subordinates and the owners of the business, not to let the wrong kind of stress take over the workplace. Becoming aware of some of the symptoms of work related stress can identify when you and other individuals are under stress.
The following symptoms of people experiencing stress are indicators only. Keep in mind there may be outside influences as well such as a death in the family, change in family circumstances, change in relationships, financial pressures etc. What you are primarily looking for is a change in normal behavior.
- Unable to concentrate
- Unable to make decisions
- Becoming forgetful
- Becoming confused
- Impaired logical thinking
- Blowing things out of proportion
- Feeling tense and shaking
- Stomach upsets
- Nagging colds
- Aches and pains
- Changes in attendance (arriving late or taking more time off)
- Increased smoking, alcohol and or drug use (to cope)
- Being cynical and expressing negativity
- Going by the book
- Mood swings effecting behavior
- Start blaming others
- Feeling discontented
- Increased anger
- Increased resentment
- Depression and anxiety
- Feeling of stagnation
- Feeling irritable
- More tearful, sensitive or aggressive
- Loss of commitment and confidence
The relationship between stress and performance
There is a definite correlation between stress levels and performance. When stress levels are too low, the tendency is to feel bored, frustrated and dissatisfied. When stress levels are too high, the tendency is to become irrational, exhausted and experience a loss of self-esteem to the point where serious illness can set in. Optimum stimulation results in rational problem solving, creativity, progress and high levels of satisfaction.
Sales can cause a lot of stress.
Whether you are a professional salesperson, manager or owner of a business, you have sales targets to hit. Even if you are a professional sales person, it’s hard to keep getting a “no!” Receiving constant knockbacks can be demoralizing and bring on unwanted stress, especially if there is an owner or manager on your back riding you to bring in the sales!
Alternatively, if you work for yourself, you are the one responsible for bringing the sales and keeping your cash flow going. Again this can be stressful if your livelihood depends on that next sale. What happens is, the stress creeps in and it shows on your face, in your voice and you start to come across as being desperate and doesn’t the prospect know it! You completely forget about following a sales process and start to push your products and services instead without forming rapport and asking questions. The prospect feels that it’s all about you and not about them and they walk away because you come across as a pushy salesperson. Even more important to keep stress levels under control.
What stress costs a business
The cost of stress in the workplace for both an individual and the business are potentially very high. Some people die from stress related diseases or become unemployable.
Stress is the most common cause of long term sickness absence from the workplace. The World Health Organization estimated in 2012 that stress cost American businesses over $300 billion a year. Mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year (as of April 2013). In the UK, stress is costing businesses over £4 billion in lost working days and wasted wages.
Here are some other interesting statistics:
- 75% – 90% of visits to a doctor are stress related
- 60% – 80% of work related accidents are related to stress
- 30% of health care claims are stress related
As you can see, there is a cost to a business if employees are stressed. Depending on the researcher, as many as 25% of employees take time off work because of work related stress.
Common causes of work related stress
Some common causes of employee stress are:
Many jobs demand regular contact with others at work. Poor or unsupportive relationships with colleagues, supervisors or managers can be a potential source of stress. In addition, stress can occur if people feel isolated or unfairly treated.
Poor work relationships can be a result of:
- A lack of understanding and leadership
- Poor management style (inconsistent, aggressive, autocratic, uncaring)
- Managers constantly finding fault with their subordinates
- A feeling of isolation at work
- Bullying and harassment
- Others not pulling their share of the weight
- Others taking credit for personal achievements
- Poor relationships with colleagues
- Poor communication
Aspects of the job
Lack of influence, overload and a lack of control also contribute to work place stress.
- Unrealistic deadlines and expectations
- Workloads that are unmanageable
- Understaffed for work already timetabled or committed
- Lack of clarity between roles and responsibilities
- Being bored or doing mundane work
- Physical working environment (noise, heating or lack of it, bad lighting)
- Lack of involvement in the decision making process
- Lack of control over certain aspects of the job
- Not taking into account ideas and suggestions from staff
- A lack of influence over performance targets
- A lack of time to complete tasks
Job Security, rewards and recognition
- Job insecurity
- Fear of redundancy
- Temporary positions and fixed term contracts
- Dissatisfaction with income
- Lack of feedback on performance
How people cope with stress
To handle stress, there are a variety of behaviors people adopt to help cope with their stress levels.
- Lowering performance standards to reduce stress
- Attacking others
- Mentally or physically avoiding something that is causing distress
- Crying to release the stress and or seeking comfort from others
- Disassociation by separating themselves from parts of their life
- Copying others behaviors to deal with the stress
- Becoming passive aggressive
- Seeing unwanted feelings in other people
- Distancing yourself by moving away
- Denial by refusing to acknowledge there is distress
- Mentally and physically avoiding distress
- Outburst of extreme emotion
- Escaping reality through fantasy
- Deliberately provoking others as an excuse to react
- Self-harming by physically abusing their body
- Consciously holding back unwanted feelings
How to break stressful habits?
Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Something that is stressful for you may not be stressful for someone else. For example, driving in traffic may trigger high levels of stress for one person for they get agitated very easily. Yet another person might take the same trip and think of driving in traffic as relaxing because it’s an opportunity to listen to their favorite music.
It is critical to keep your stress levels under control and equally important to find a method of reducing stress levels that works for you. Again this will vary from person to person. Regardless of what method you use to reduce stress levels, it is important to find one that reduces your stress levels quickly. Consider what might help you reduce stress levels.
If you have a tendency to experience anxiety or get angry when you get stressed, you might need activities that calm you down such as listening to calming music or meditating. You might benefit from being around people who have a calming influence on you or offer you comfort and a willingness just to listen. If you have a tendency to withdraw or feel depressed, you may need activities that stimulate you or surround yourself with uplifting and inspiring people.
Exercise is a good way to manage stress. Going for an early morning walk or run. If that isn’t possible then take time out at lunchtime. Change your environment by leaving your workplace and go to a nearby park or market. If you can’t leave the office, then be sure to drink lots of water as opposed to taking stimulants.
Avoid stimulating your nervous system by cutting down stimulants like coffee, tea, energy drinks, sugar, chocolate.
Helpful hints to dealing with stress
- Accept that some stress is inevitable
- Focus on what you can change and not what you can’t
- Evaluate your personal expectations of yourself
- Make a conscious effort to establish good working relationships with others
- Avoid rushing your day by getting up 15 minutes earlier
- Talk about your business concerns to a friend or mentor
- Avoid negative people and places – stress is infectious
- Cut out smoking, excessive eating and alcohol
- Try warm milk at night if you can’t sleep
- Listen to a relaxing meditation CD or soothing music
- Learn to say no! Don’t overload yourself
- Concentrate on one thing at a time
- Be in the here and now – live in the present and enjoy the moment
- Note your own worry habits – surround yourself with joyful colors, sounds and smells
- Learn to relax your mind and your body at will
- Daily exercise and drink lots of water
On a Final Note
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