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We all get stressed at work. How many times have you thought about just quitting and walking out the door on the spot? Managing stress at work will not only improve your health, but can also help you get that promotion you’ve earned.
If you’re trying to climb the corporate ladder to a high-level position, or working towards a major promotion, make sure you keep your stress levels in check.
One of the greatest causes of on-the-job stress is managing the demands of your manager while keeping a good work life balance. The more you stress about getting ahead in your job, the more it could hinder your success. The tips below will help you recognize key stress factors as well as helping you manage them.
Stress Negatively Affects Your Performance
Excellent job performance is key to getting ahead. You need to perform above and beyond expectations in order to get improve your standing. But if you’re overly stressed out, your ability to work might be affected, which affects how your managers and coworkers view your status in the organization. Some of the key drivers of stress in the workplace are:
- Concerns about job security (downsizing, performance, etc.)
- Work / life balance
- People issues (don’t get along with their manager or coworkers)
- Too much to do, not enough time (long hours / ability to manage your time)
Too Much to Do /
While a low level dose of stress might help motivate you to meet deadlines, taking on an too much work in an effort to impress your manager (or fear of losing your job) can lead to frustration and you run the risk of not getting everything done on time or correctly. Some tips on managing your time and workload:
- Prioritize your work at the start of each day (most important tasks first). If you are unclear which tasks are more important, ask you manager to help.
- Start one thing and finish it. Starting multiple tasks will cause you to lose focus and 5 started tasks are not as good as 1 or more completed tasks.
- Learn to say no to additional work if you feel overwhelmed. Again, ask your manager to help prioritize any new tasks that will interfere with you completing work already assigned.
People Issues with Your Manager and Coworkers:
Stress is a major contributor to strained interactions with coworkers and poor interactions with coworkers can cause stress (yes, a vicious cycle). There are things you can do to improve relationships with coworkers and managers (although not getting along with your manager is difficult to fix in terms of perception). Some tips:
- Be helpful to others. Try to help your coworkers with business related tasks. Offer to get them a coffee if you are getting one for yourself. Praising their work (especially to managers) can help as well.
- Don’t lose your “cool”. Count to 10 and take a deep breath when there is stress.
- Stay away from office politics to the extent possible. Don’t gossip and certainly don’t say negative things about coworkers
- To improve your relationship with your manager, follow through on what you say you will do (deliver on time). Produce good work, get in early and stay late if necessary. If you manager knows you are a solid performer, things will improve.
Work / Life Balance:
Trying to do a good job at work where you are working long hours puts stress on your personal life. Short of getting a new job, there are other things you can do to improve your work/life balance and improve your stress levels.
- Schedule time for your loved ones in the same way you schedule tasks at work. Make “date nights” with your spouse and plan special events with your kids.
- Your time is important too. Schedule time for yourself in the same way you would schedule time with loved ones.
- Give yourself a break. Try not to be so hard on yourself. We all deserve “down time” and time where we can do whatever we want (or nothing).
- Getting things done at work, as mentioned above, will improve your work/life balance as well.
Job Security Related Stress:
There is not a lot you can do about a pending downsizing or the impact of a failed business other than to look for another job. The tips above should cover most of your performance related issues. If, however, your concerns are related to a downsizing where employees’ roles will be analyzed to determine which jobs are eliminated, there are a few things you can do to improve the chances of saving your job:
- Help improve the profitability of your department and organization. This can be through cost savings recommendations or additional revenue (if you are in sales or marketing).
- Improve your visibility by networking within your organization
- Offer to take on new roles and tasks
- Keep a positive attitude
Your Stress Reduction Plan
Make an effort to plan your next steps to reducing your stress based on the tips above. Make a list of the skills and resources you will need to start your stress reduction plan. Ensure you create goals and objectives that are attainable and achievable (and don’t cause stress!). Long term exposure and high levels of stress can impede your career advancement by affecting your ability to do your job.
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Good luck in your search,