Study: 1 in 3 managers can't deal with high-stress situations
- One in three managers is unable to handle high-pressure situations calmly, according to new research from VitalSmarts. And that's a big problem for employers, it said, because managers who blow up or clam up under fire cause employees to miss deadliness, ignore quality standards, exceed budgets and drive away customers. The leadership training company surveyed more than 1,300 people for the report.
- The survey found that when under stress, 53% of managers are more controlling and closed-minded than open-minded and curious. Many also become emotional and upset, stop listening and abandon attempts to understand situations. Teams members negatively affected by these managers are more likely to consider leaving their job; more than half of teams respond to stressed out managers by shutting down and ceasing to participate.
- When managers handle pressure gracefully and communicate well in high-stakes situations, a team responds with better engagement, the survey found. In those situations, teams are more likely to meet quality standards and deadlines; their workplaces also enjoy improved morale and safety.
HR can provide training for managers, teaching those who are hot-headed or poor communicators in high-pressure situations how to act responsibly under fire.
Especially in today's tight talent market, employers can't afford to let managers' inability to process stress lower morale, team performance or productivity. Managers, after all, drive an organization's success. Competent leaders make sure work gets done according to schedule and instill pride in workers to boost productivity, engagement and retention. Toxic bosses — who, according to a recent survey, cause problems for three out of four workers — are often unable to handle high-stakes situations, among other forms of undesirable behavior. For that reason, employers must provide managers with the information and tools they need to lead.
A Gartner report found that organizations expect managers to be "on" all the time and to consistently look for chances to get involved with employees. But this demand on managers and their time can be stifling. Successful managers know their own strengths and weaknesses, when to connect with, guide and support employees — and when to let them be so as not to micromanage them.