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Is Stress Hitting Your Hot Buttons?

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The economic crisis, continuous extreme weather changes, and the threat of pandemics, gives a heightened definition to the words "stressed out." In these roller coaster times it's hard to take anything for granted.

An ancient Chinese saying helps put today into perspective "THE BIGGER THE FRONT, THE BIGGER THE BACK." Translated to a personal message for each of us, it means that this current environment also has its bright side. It forces us to think differently about the nature of competition, how to lead change, and how to keep the competitive edge. When stress and anxiety reign, it is important for business executives to take a different kind of control.

Here are some areas that need attention.

1) Redefine performance evaluation: it may take more time than we like for the bottom line to right itself so limit the focus on numbers as the major sign of success. Let inherent positive employee qualities like vitality, motivation, creativity, and cooperation rise to the top of the scale. Set time at meetings to talk about how to keep energy high, gloom low, and ideas flowing rather than create more tension by talking only dollars. Engage everyone to share thoughts. This is a time to motivate by sharing concerns, not just do a hyped up motivational speech.

2) Become "Pattern Aware": When stress hits that hot button we are all prone to revert back to patterns we learned as children. These survival mechanisms keep us stuck in old ways of responding that limit insights and actionable strategies. Listen for the words "always" and "never" they are clues that old fear patterns have surfaced. Remember Einstein's definition of insanity? "Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results."

3) Keep your eyes on the talent pipeline: recruitment may be on the back burner, however you can maintain elevated morale by keeping your high potentials engaged and giving opportunities for development. This is a time to help them gain insights into practical ways to address absenteeism, conflict, gossip, and ethical issues that so often surface when employees pull back to "fight or flight" behaviors.

I believe that the well-being of staff is not only relevant; it is the "essential stuff" during every business cycle. Now, when we are so unsure and unsafe, it is even more important for leaders to champion the wisdom that humanistic values are important drivers for overall business success.

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