I thought I'd deal with a subject that's been plaguing many of us in these times of uncertainty: stress.

For managers, learning to deal with stress is important because your employees look to you for a sense of how things are going. Studies show that the best leaders are positive and confident — especially during tough times.

I know one manager who pauses before he walks into his workplace each morning to think about what's on his mind that he might be worrying about. If it's something important, he takes out a piece of paper and writes it down so that he doesn't forget it. His objective is to clear his mind so that he is able to focus on being fully present and positive for his people. He knows that when he walks into his department, he is essentially stepping on stage, and the audience he plays to every day are the people who work for him. His energy, how he greets them, and his smile and eye contact all go a long way toward making them feel energized and excited to be at work.

Other people have different strategies. Noelle Sment, customer operations director for Urban Cableworks of Philadelphia, recently told me about a Bad Day Board they used at her previous company. The board listed everyone's names, and alongside were magnets that could be moved to indicate if a person was having a bad day from stress, personal problems, difficult customers, etc. The board was initially meant to serve as a warning system for others, but her group often took on the challenge of trying to cheer each other up, often with success.

American Airlines has a policy to help employees if they are ever stressed to the verge of losing control while dealing with difficult customers. Agents have the option to walk away from their positions and ask anyone else to take their places — no questions asked. American would rather have an employee who is having a bad day get the help and relief he or she needs than to risk a negative customer experience.

Greg Anderson, author of The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness, perhaps explained the challenge of dealing with stress best: “When we change our perception, we gain control. The stress becomes a challenge, not a threat. When we commit to action, to actually doing something about it, rather than feeling trapped by events, the stress in our life becomes more manageable.”




Bob Nelson, PhD, is a frequent presenter at conferences and associations, president of Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego, and best-selling author of The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, Managing For Dummies, and Please Don't Just Do What I Tell You! Do What Needs to Be Done. For more information, visit www.nelson-motivation.com, call (800) 575-5521, or contact Bob directly at BobRewards@aol.com.