January 2019

Happy New Year! Since January is a time for renewal, we’re focusing this month on building resilience, managing workplace stressors, and creating balance.

 feature insight

This is why your department is stressed

Difficult situations as inevitable; we face them every day. As someone who oversees the work of others, you can help your department to manage difficult circumstances by helping them to become more resilient.

Resilient people face the reality of difficult situations with courage, have a positive self-image, and focus on finding solutions to move forward. Building resilience requires self-awareness and practice and can be developed by anyone. As a supervisor, you are well positioned to build your employees’ ability to adapt to stressful circumstances and become more resilient.

First, recognize the signs of burnout:

  • Exhaustion: Feeling tired, worn out, and a general lack of energy.
  • Cynicism: Easily irritated and impatient with co-workers, students, clients, or patients. This can sound like, “I don’t care anymore” or “I’m over it.”
  • Inefficacy: Feeling helpless, ineffective, and less confident than usual. You might notice a decrease in productivity and trouble concentrating.

All of these symptoms can affect performance, and the behavior of one person can affect the whole team. It’s easy to write people off when you see these behaviors, but before you do, consider the source of the stress and how you can help.

  • Role Conflict—Facing competing priorities, unrealistic deadlines, or conflicting demands. Succeeding in one area means failing in another.

What you can do: Talk with your team during team meetings or one-on-ones about their workload. Also, help set boundaries with requests from others.

  • Role Ambiguity—Feeling unsure about job responsibilities or expectations.

What you can do: Have a conversation about roles and responsibilities. Be clear about your expectations and goals. Make sure everyone on the team knows what others are doing.

  • Interpersonal Conflict - Disagreements and conflicts with co-workers become personal and emotional.

What you can do: Ask questions to determine the source of the conflict and practice reflective listening. Authentic compassion and empathy will go a long way.

  • Lack of Social Support—Feeling disconnected from others within and outside of work. Not enough help or emotional support in solving problems.

What you can do: Recognize even small successes, noting the impact their efforts have made on others. Establish or revisit norms to foster honest and open communication.

Remember that although you manage a team, you’re also a member of the team so be sure to take care of yourself, too. Be intentional about creating time to relax and recharge on evenings, weekends, holidays, and vacations. Add short breaks to your calendar or schedule, even if it’s only a few minutes to stand and stretch.

Resources for Supervisors

  • Take a look at this video (3:09) to learn more about the signs of burnout. Then review this QuickGuide for information about the four most common workplace stressors and how to create balance.
  • The Leading Teams module in the Supervisory Development course will guide you in establishing team norms and expectations and clarifying roles and responsibilities—part of addressing sources of burnout.
  • Listen to the Building Resilient Teams episode in the Supervisory Development podcast.
  • The University’s Wellbeing program has resources and tools to help manage your stress including mindfulness classes; phone coaching; individual and group coaching; and .online, action-oriented education

All of the Supervisory Development webinars are now available as podcasts so you can listen anywhere.


 This image shows the text, "Tell us what you think. What do you stress the most about at work?"

In December, the majority of supervisors said that someone who is a “good fit” for the position has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful. Learn more about how to make sure to hire a “good fit.”


ask the experts

LTD consultants have expertise in leadership development, engagement, and supervisory development. If you have questions about employee engagement, send us an email. We’ll do our best to respond and may even feature it in the next newsletter.  

Is it easier to get to the root of work stressors in larger staff meetings or during a one on one?

Because many people are more comfortable speaking candidly in small groups or one-on-one conversations, it's often best to start there. In larger staff meetings, it's common for a few outspoken individuals to dominate the discussion. One technique that can work well in larger groups is to divide into small groups of three or four people for discussion, and then have each group report out to the full group.


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