Managing Stress

The latest CIPD/SimplyHealth survey on absence management shows that the leading cause of long-term sickness absence in the UK is stress.

There is potentially a long post on the avoidance and management of stress, but this is not it. Instead, I want to make two points around the fact that stress comes from the interaction a particular personality with a particular set of circumstances.

The first is that some people are simply in the wrong job. For example, an introvert may be able to cope with a people facing job in the short or even medium term, but may find it stressful in the end. Managers need to know their staff, and get them to play to their strengths. Personality tests can help, but active listening and observation also have a part to play.

The second is that sometimes managers make life worse. This is not as such an issue of bullying or harassment (though that can be stressful) but one of management. The way that work is organised (or disorganised)  can have an effect, again particularly if it clashes with the worker’s personality. Thus lack of practical support for getting work done, or lack of clarity on what is req, active listeninguired can increase stress.

This is a particular issue in the legal profession, since it is demanding, and lawyers have traditionally had limited management training. And most legal managers have the same professional demands as their professional staff, and have little time for observation and reflection.

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