Navigating Stressful Times: How Leaders Help Employees Stay Resilient During a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project
Regardless of how well-planned your Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation is, it will create significant change, and change typically raises stress levels.
While stress can create many problems in organizations, it doesn’t necessarily have to. Find two people in the same circumstances and notice the differences in their responses. Some remain effective during tough times, and others don’t. This same phenomenon shows up when examining whole teams. There’s a big range in resiliency from person to person and team to team.
Managing stress is part of being an effective team member. Sometimes people haven’t been taught what they can do. More often though, people aren’t doing what they already know. Leaders can help their team members on both fronts.
In this article, we’ll consider three proven stress management techniques you can teach your team and encourage them to use when they are in the middle of a workplace change.
If you aren’t thinking about the stressors in your life, they generally won’t affect you. So, one popular strategy is to distract yourself by watching a movie, playing with your kids, or spending time on your favorite hobby. Taking your mind off the problem for a while isn’t a permanent solution, but it’s a great way to give your body and mind a break.
At work, diversion can be as simple as changing tasks, taking a walk around the building, or deep breathing at your desk. For more impactful diversion, take advantage of paid time off. Vacation and personal days are there for a reason. Use them. Take your breaks and eat your lunch away from your desk. Periodically redirect your thoughts from the work.
Here’s how leaders help
Your example and setting explicit expectations can make a positive difference. People need to see you taking time off and doing healthy activities that help you keep your cool. Also, for people who don’t seem to be managing this well on their own, you can encourage them to shift their habits. Ask people when they’re planning on using their time off. Tell them that answering emails at all hours of the night isn’t necessary. Find out (without prying) what they do to blow off steam and encourage them to spend time on that.
2. Shift Thinking
Stress isn’t a result of what happens to us; it’s a result of the story we tell ourselves about what happens to us. Sometimes those stories are incredible. They don’t represent reality and aren’t helpful. Your stories should make sense. The power of positive thinking is…well…powerful!
Here are some examples:
- When you think your boss has it in for you because she’s loading you up with too much work, consider instead the possibility that your boss thinks you’re the only one capable of handling that much.
- When you’re upset that your coworker is purposely slacking because he knows you’ll do the heavy lifting, consider the possibility he’s sick today and doesn’t have the energy to carry his normal load.
Different interpretations lead to different reactions. And while your alternative interpretation may not be true, you can’t say for sure whether the first one is either. If you’re making up stories, you may as well make one up that helps you feel calm.
Here’s how leaders help
Engage people in conversations to find out what they are thinking and be willing to probe a bit to get at the answer behind their initial answer. When their assumptions are off track, tell them what you know to be true. When you aren’t sure, you can help them consider other possibilities. They may have made a mental leap to the worst possible case and hadn’t even thought of other interpretations. Give them new options to think about.
3. Problem Solving
Most things that cause stress in our lives look a lot like problems. A great way to remove stress is to solve the problem that’s creating it.
Life is full of problems. Instead of worrying about them, why not act? Think about a time when you gave more energy worrying about a problem than you gave to solving it. What a waste.
If you’re mad that the software might not meet your process requirements, find out who can do something about that and talk with them so that your needs are considered. If you don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks the project team asks for, speak with your manager about priorities. There are plenty of problems that need solving. Solve one.
And for those problems that are outside your control to solve, pick one of the first two strategies.
Here’s how leaders help
With this strategy, ask others a simple question, “What do you think you’re going to do about it?” When the person looks at you like they have no idea what to do, you might follow up with, “Would you like some help thinking through ways to solve this problem?” Then the two of you can work together to think of tangible steps to move towards a resolution. If you can’t figure out what to do, it may help the person to know you have empathy for the situation they find themselves in. Let them know you are on their side.
Stress is the Leader’s Problem
Everyone is responsible for managing their stress. Still, when they don’t, the effects spread far and wide. That’s why leaders proactively help their team members deal with their stress.
We all love to blame our stress on others, which is a bad move. We are stressed because we allow ourselves to feel stressed. We can make different choices. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but sometimes guidance, encouragement, and the right questions from your manager can help.
Change Management Lowers Stress
Making change management a part of your project is another excellent way to deliver a better project and help users have more control over their work lives during this change. More control, whether real or perceived, is an excellent way to reduce everyone’s stress level.
If you have people on your team who understand and have time to do change management work, ask them to help with your project. If you don’t, Stoneridge can lend a hand. Our change management consultants work hard to ensure the project puts people’s needs front and center. This includes keeping stress levels in check.
When success depends on people thinking and behaving differently, you must guide them on their change journey. Stoneridge is here to help you predict, prevent, and mitigate people-side risk.
Learn more about our change management services.