Understanding the new demands placed on workers and how to manage a stressed workforce is challenging. Gender differences compound the problem. According to a new study by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, organizational pressures are producing conflict within professionals and men and women respond differently. “Women who had trouble with the work hours tended to take formal accommodations, reducing their work hours…In contrast, many men found unobtrusive, under-the-radar ways to alter the structure of their work,” Reid explained.
Emotionally intelligent leaders implement workplace strategies to identify and reduce stress among workers experiencing emotional problems due to personal and professional conflicts. Here are just a few:
1. Foster collaboration.
Some emotional intelligence models include independence as a trait, such as the Bar-On EQ-i Model. The reasoning is that before you can achieve interdependence or work collaboratively with others, you must become independent. As a leader, you have the responsibility to provide training, resources and opportunities to develop independence in your people. Once that’s achieved, you can foster collaboration among them.
Collaboration can reduce stress and teams that collaborate well achieve higher performance. Team members share the work load and can cover for each other when needed. It does take emotional intelligence to develop collaborative teams. You have to understand personalities, gender differences and be trustworthy to get the truth about the personal and professional conflicts that each team member faces.
2. Use mentors.
Perhaps it’s not possible or appropriate for you to mentor specific workers. Why not provide that opportunity to others on your staff? Implement a mentoring program where members of your leadership team can mentor workers. Some examples include a female executive mentoring a female worker who aspires to move up in the company. Perhaps a male executive can mentor a male worker who wants to change his position in the company.
It may work to have a male executive mentor a female worker and vice versa. The point is to have an ongoing relationship with someone who can provide meaningful advice for being successful in both life and at work. Mentors should also develop emotional intelligence.
3. Create more videos.
Not only are there gender differences, but also different learning styles. The way you distribute assignments, or introduce new projects, can be stressful to the recipients if they process information differently. A five-page memo may terrify a visual learner. While that memo may be necessary, there is a way to summarize and introduce the project in way that doesn’t immediately cause your staff to shut down.
Videos can be a great way to reduce stress. You can create video demonstrations, tutorials, messages from the project manager and more. You can use formal video cameras or a smart phone. Videos can be useful to provide the emotional connection that’s missing in lengthy paperwork.
4. Meet the right needs.
To be an effective leader you have to meet the needs of your employees. When you lead with emotional intelligence, you understand that everyone you work with has needs. Some needs are basic. Some employees just want enough money to provide for their families. Others want to add value and be recognized for their efforts. Some have a need to grow spiritually, and view their work as an opportunity for growth.
Once you get to know your employees through conversations, assessments and spending time with them, do what you can to meet their needs. Set boundaries and do what’s appropriate. Some leaders are out of balance, thinking they should never meet a need. For some workers, a paycheck is not their sole motivation for working.
Reducing stress in the workplace is key to leading with emotional intelligence. It impacts productivity and retention.
By Daphne Mallory
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