Sustained stress creates an unsustainable workplace. High levels of stress lead to conflict for several reasons:
- People try to escape from the reality of a stressful workplace by focusing their energies on their enemy—whether that person be a colleague or a manager.
- When people are snapped at they’ll snap at others.
- Stressed team members are likely to take their frustrations out on their manager. While in some cases they may accuse you directly, they’re more likely to complain about you behind your back. This is how mutinies begin.
- Stress also brings people’s pre-existing psychological insecurities to the surface. In many cases you may not even be aware of a staff member’s emotional issues, until workplace stress forces them to the surface.
Monitoring workplace stress is a critical responsibility for managers and team leaders. So: how would you describe the stress levels in your team right now? High, medium, low, non-existent? Which of your staff members are more prone to stress? When they’re stressed, how do they react? Can you sense any pressure points developing within your team? Are there any external sources of stress that you can address on your teams’ behalf? And, most importantly, how might you react if conflict erupted in your team right now?