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4 Tips to Calm Yourself and Your Stressed Team

women stressedFemale professionals in the financial services industry are no strangers to stress. Whether the pressure stems from a full plate of distractions, such as those introduced by an unsteady economy, or from a steady flow of work-oriented communications, there is a constant balancing act to find a suitable strategy for getting the job done. How can you stay focused? How can you help your team successfully accomplish a challenging objective without becoming overwhelmed?

Tip 1: Stop Multitasking

Women in financial services are resolute multi-taskers with a high probability for getting stressed out to the max. A Stanford study revealed the cognitive dangers to media multitasking. Scientists have theorized that humans simply cannot adequately process a conglomeration of various free flowing information at one time. However, that fact has not stopped female professionals from trying. Without a doubt, individuals who have mastered multi-tasking positions have acquired an invaluable skill. This, however, is a double-edged sword. Their perceived gift is stress-inducing, which means it comes with a high price. Multiple tests showed that heavy multitaskers not only consistently underperformed light multitaskers, but the flood of tasks was actually detrimental to their cognitive control. On the other hand, workers who prioritize and give individual projects full attention are actually more productive.

Tip 2: Understand the macro-environment

Financial services is a particularly stressful industry because of widespread restructuring, increased competition, and globalization. Immense changes in the economy have had a significant impact on professionals in the industry. The stress resulting from work-related irascibilities in the financial industry should not be ignored or minimized. Massive acquisitions and mergers have made headlines for years.

Women in financial services are resolute multi-taskers with a high probability for getting stressed out to the max.

New developments in technology require finance professionals to acquire and utilize more technical expertise, and to perform increasingly difficult tasks with a broader skill set. Additionally, domestic and international competition has raised the bar as to what is expected of financial services. Toss in a lack of meaningful communication and a loss of teamfocus, and you have the recipe for exacerbated tension and frustration in the workplace.

What starts out as irritation from miscommunication or fatigue from a heavy workload, often leads to more serious difficulties such as burn out, anger eruptions, physical illness, loss of self-confidence, workplace violence, and insufficient staffing. Understand the reason is sometimes bigger than you and that there are certain factors in the macro-environment that cannot be overlooked.

Tip 3: Identify the source of the stress

It is unreasonable to think that one can revolutionize the entire financial services industry and make the workplace stress free. However, with expert advice, you can change the environment of your own workplace in order to reduce your stress level and the stress level of your teammates. How do you bring about a more positive atmosphere? It’s crucial to first identify the source of the stress. Is a particular project weighing everyone down? Has there been a lot of overtime? Is new technology causing stress in the office? Once you identify the stress, then you can begin the process of alleviating it.

Leaders don’t wait for staff to come up with something to make the workplace healthier. Take the initiative by providing team support and by giving each worker clear training and goals. Instead of having the type of staff meeting that allows for endless rambling, set a clear agenda that conveys a constructive tone, one that prevents individuals from monopolizing valuable time. Meetings that are productive and focused create a true haven for support rather than add to the team’s boatload of stress.

Tip 4: Think ahead

A proactive leader thinks ahead. Don’t wait until everyone is at the breaking point before you decide to act. When your team is assigned a project, use insight to determine what the team needs to deal with the challenges associated with the project. If certain tasks, changes, or clients are likely to impose extra stress on your team, then have a clear stress management plan ready. Keep the lines of communication open, and encourage feedback and team engagement. Obviously, you are not going to eliminate or even reduce to an innocuous level every source of stress in the financial services industry. However, it is both insightful and pragmatic to take advantage of every available resource and opportunity to minimize personal stress and the stress of your team. To start with there are always some simple, practical, common-sense things a good leader can do to stay on top of or avert a potential problem: When conflicts arise, settle them quickly; give the needed attention to individuals on your team; listen actively to them when they make suggestions or face difficulties; institute a strategy that will make it easy for them to transition from one project to the next; give them constant feedback and make them feel respected and valued.

Even though female professionals face highly stressful circumstances in the financial services industry, they can manage pressure by keeping the workplace positive. Multi-tasking and aimless staff meetings are not the solution, but part of the problem. Workers need to know that they are valued as team players, and they need to have clear goals on which to focus, and toward which to work. By honing their exceptional communication skills, women leaders avail themselves of yet another useful skill in managing stress.

By Kathleen Delaney