Of course, everyone’s personality, capabilities and ability to cope with stressful situations varies, so the manager has to handle this situation carefully.
And as all managers with experience of handling teams of people will know, this is itself is difficult for the manager to handle. We probably all know the expression “if you want something done, ask a busy person “.
So, you can end up with a situation where the strong, capable, coping person has all the difficult tasks heaped on them, while their more “sensitive “colleagues, probably on the same salary and benefits, swan about having an easy time of it. And this in itself exacerbates the stress of the poor person carrying the heaviest load. I’ve seen this situation many times.
The manager must watch this situation carefully, offer support, re-allocate tasks, draft in assistance, and generally manage the situation. After all, that is their job.
Remember management is defined as” achieving things through other people”.
There needs to be an open and honest dialogue about the situation. People need to know they can tell their manager that this is too much, they can’t cope, and they need to know their manager will take that seriously and do something about the situation.
They need to know there is no longer a stigma attached to this issue, that they have a right to discuss this with their manager, and to expect that something will be done about the issue, if it is a genuine issue.
Performance Management Reviews
Managers should discuss job satisfaction and professional and personal health regularly with each of their team. Regular readers will know I am an advocate of Performance Management Reviews, and this is a perfect opportunity to initiate this conversation.
You could table it on the agenda as part of your paperwork, or just say “and how are your finding your workload?”
The danger, of course, is that the workshy will seize on the opportunity to complain they are put upon, stressed, can’t handle their unreasonable workload.
This is the test of your management skills. You may have to make some judgement calls, in the knowledge that stress is subjective in a way, and what is stressful to one person, can be adequately coped with by another . You will have to arm yourself with some detailed knowledge about what is in their workload, how others are coping, what is reasonable.
Perhaps imply that promotion prospects depend on the ability to deal with a robust workload.
The manger should be on the lookout for any signs of stress among their team, and be alive to the possibility that members of their team are suffering from it.
They need to have some tools at their disposal to deal with it where appropriate.
I have covered some related subjects that you may find it interesting to revisit.