How do Leaders Accidentally Stress Out Their Employees?

Emotions are running high and employees at all levels are exhausted. Prolonged stress and uncertainty, layoffs, and work overload have led to high levels of burnout and high quit rates.

However, managers and leaders have a direct effect on employee wellbeing, stress, and anxiety levels.

What they see, feel, and do influences team mental and physical health. The higher the authority, the greater the influence – both positively and negatively.

Employees are watching and observing leaders’ verbal, nonverbal, words, frequency, tone, and type of communication to gauge their personal work situation.

It is for this reason that leaders must pay a great deal of attention to how they communicate. They must be intentional in their actions, provide clarity and guidance, and give us reasons to remain hopeful.

According to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, an organizational psychologist and author, there are 5 behavior patterns that increase workers’ stress and anxiety level:

𝟭.          𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗻𝗲𝗴𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗴𝗲
𝟮.          𝗨𝗻𝘂𝘀𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝗿𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀
𝟯.          𝗘𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝘃𝗼𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆
𝟰.          𝗘𝘅𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗺
𝟱.          𝗜𝗴𝗻𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲’𝘀 𝗲𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀

Leaders have followers; Volatile leaders create distance and distrust.

There are so many ways that we communicate far beyond the words that we use. With continued uncertainty in the economy and job market, we are more sensitive to negative cues and language.

Active engagement, supportive guidance, transparency, and conscious empathy provide better morale, stronger psychological safety, and organizational alignment.

Sending the wrong messages or being too reactive will raise others’ stress levels, burnout, and defensiveness. It will also cause people to think that things are much worse than they really are when deciding whether to stay or go.

In what ways do you think leaders and managers could be more intentional in reducing fear and stress in the work environment?