Poor Leadership and Employee Stress

Lately, we’ve discussed the topic of improving executive leadership and executive presence.  In contrast, let’s take a look at the other side of these skills and how poor leadership and employee stress are linked. Certainly, it is without question that the two go hand in hand.

Defining Expectations.

As a starting point, the management staff of any business or organization is responsible for setting priorities for the staff. These priorities define expectations and allow the entire team to run smoothly.

If management does not fulfill these responsibilities or is doing a poor job, employee stress is going to increase.

What Employees Seek.

When it comes to organization, the human mind is actually a very simple machine to operate. In practice, the mind loves to compartmentalize situations.

Therefore, employees perform best when duties and responsibilities are clearly defined. Defining duties and responsibilities allow the mind to further divide tasks into attainable daily, weekly, and monthly goals.  

Which, as a result, works perfectly in-line with larger goals put forth by management.  

Bite-sized goals. Now that’s the stuff that motivates employees!

Identifying Mental Health Priorities.

Furthermore, to expand the message of how poor leadership and employee stress are entwined, we found this perfect bullet list of risk definitions from the World Health Organization.

Risks to mental health include:

  • inadequate health and safety policies;
  • poor communication and management practices;
  • limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work;
  • low levels of support for employees;
  • inflexible working hours; and
  • unclear tasks or organizational objectives.

Additionally, The WTO released an information sheet in 2019 that speaks directly to mental health in the workplace.  

“Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation. Key to success is involving stakeholders and staff at all levels when providing protection, promotion and support interventions and when monitoring their effectiveness. “

Setting Workplace Priorities.

Altogether, leaders are responsible for deciding the team direction. Leaders choose the project focus, and how fast it needs to be done. Unfortunately, some managers project management skills are weak. This throws a team into chaos.

As a rule, the best management goals are ones that are quantifiable. Stick to concrete numbers or measurable benchmarks.

For example, a good goal for a sales department is to increase sales by 15 percent over the next quarter. A poor and vague goal is to “do a good job.”

With this in mind, clear standards of performance allow employees to measure their individual success at work. As a result, a lack of clear standards causes morale to suffer. Which, in turn, makes it very difficult for an employee to gain a sense of fulfillment.

Ultimately, everyone wants to feel like they can ask for a raise, pursue a promotion, and, generally, feel successful at their job.  Indeed, we all want to achieve.

Mental Health Awareness.

What’s inspiring is the framework being established as the norm when it comes to employee stress and the nature of workplace mental health.

Over the years, we’ve seen a rise in corporate efforts that support a positive and healthy work environment for all team members. These days, it’s not uncommon for companies to have a functioning wellness program.

Most recently, some organizations are adopting the title role of Chief Wellness Officer. A role entirely dedicated to navigating employee stress. For example the facilitation of training seminars, leadership coaching, employee support sessions, and programmed stress-reducing retreats.

Furthermore, institutions such as Stanford University School of Medicine offer Chief Wellness Officer courses. While initially, these targetted only healthcare professionals, they are fast becoming desirable by those in high-level leadership roles.

In the case of Standford’s course, registration is formatted as a one-week intensive. Designed to “help participants cultivate expertise in the principles and applications that contribute to physician well-being.”

With learning objectives as follows: 

  • Leadership skills to spearhead the organization’s physician wellness efforts.
  • Knowledge and hands-on experience in developing a customized strategic plan.
  • Expertise in the principles and applications contributed to physician well-being. Including the development of an organizational culture to foster engagement and professional fulfillment.

As leaders who aim to create optimal work environments, our focus points are well defined to encourage healthy and vibrant mental health across our teams.