There are times when, for reasons beyond our control, stress takes over an organization. It could be an outside demand for products or services, new policies or procedures, or losing or gaining team members. No matter what the cause there will be an effect on the organization.
The team will respond in differing ways to the stress based on personality type and the duration of the stressful situation. If it is short-term you may see push-back on issues and some anxiety but most will function up to the team expectations. If the stress is long-term, there are issues that will surface.
Some of these issues are related to type preferences and team members may;
- Focus on negative
- Miss details
- Neglect their own needs
- Resist change
- Become rigid and inflexible
- Be overly critical
- Become overly optimistic
- Become insensitive to the needs of others
- Ignore limitations
- Become impatient with the progress of others
These are compounded by the fact that the team is made up of individuals, complete with different learning styles, levels of healthfulness, and varying outside influences in their personal lives. Under long-term stress the team members may polarize, influencing the effectiveness of the team. There will be an increase in healthcare usage and it may affect personal relationships. As a result, everyone has differing capacity levels for the stress.
Leading an organization in times of long-term stress can be extremely challenging. The leader needs to know the team well in order to understand the importance of delivering negative information in a way that won’t significantly add to the already high stress level. Knowledge of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the ‘In the Grip’ response of the personality type can be an extremely useful tool when working with the team.
Leaders also need to;
- Know what causes stress for them
- How they behave under pressure
- Ask themselves, “What signals am I sending to the team?”, “Are the signals helpful or do they undermine the success of the organization?”
- Stay calm, not be the one initiating the panic
- Motivate the team
- Recognize contribution of team members, however small
- Encourage the team to review their MBTI® results, especially ‘In the Grip’
This, combined with regular, ongoing communication with all members of the team, can make the difference between a unified team reaching the goal and a fragmented team, some of whom may be on stress leave.
Most of all, as a leader, you need to know your employees. What are their individual strengths? Do you know the name of their spouse or partner? Do they have children or grandchildren? What are their interests outside of the organization? In the 1980’s this was known as MBWA or ‘Management by Wandering Around’ and is just as applicable today as it was then.