How to: motivating teams, maintaining results and managing emotional stress in the workplace

People & Culture

Emotional stress. It’s not part of work but it doesn’t disappear when the work day starts. So how should leaders manage teams with varying life experiences and stress levels while maintaining and improving results?

Below we share suggestions on what to be conscious of in employees to help you help them manage their various life stressors and how to create healthy, supportive communication channels.

Head vs. heart

First off, recognize that your team will be a mix of those that are more strongly led by their head, and others who lead with their heart.

Those that predominantly lead with their heads tend to be left brain dominant. These individuals are highly logical, process oriented and methodical. They’re not cold, but they’re more likely to compartmentalize and stifle emotional stress at work. Don’t be fooled-they’re still managing personal stress.

Right brain dominant employees are known for their creativity and lead with their hearts. They’re often passionate and driven by emotions. They’re also more likely to struggle with emotional stress at work.

We’re all a mix of left and right brain, but as a leader, it’s important to recognize varying sensitivity levels and manage accordingly.

Schedule time and ask questions

Now that you’re paying closer attention to your employees natural tendencies, schedule time and ask questions. It’s a simple, yet staggeringly underused tactic.

The time should be structured to ensure that the conversation between leadership and staff is focused on a healthy dialogue, not a pity party.

If you’re working with a left brain dominant employee know that information may be more challenging to gather. Whereas a right brain will more likely share freely. Let them know you want to help, but in order to do so, you’ll need to understand a bit better.

Get started with these questions:

  • What’s going on for you?
  • How are you managing?
  • How can I best support you?
  • Is there anything I can help with?
  • Who can we bring into this?
  • What do you want to have happen from this?

Show empathy when they respond and let them know you’re thankful they shared. If the conversation moves to a pity party and countless excuses for poor performance, include the employee in a solution. Create a timeline for necessary change and have the employee sign it. Meet regularly to chart progress and evaluate.

Sometimes all it takes is asking a question to begin to understand employees and coworkers head space. Once you can meet someone where they’re at, you’re more likely to discern their behaviour, performance and how to motivate them for improved results.

Results: they’re all that matters

As a  leader, your role is to identify issues of struggle and mitigate the risk they cause. While managing stress in the workplace is about understanding employees and asking questions, it’s first and foremost about results.

Whether someone’s struggling with new or existing stress-familial, addiction or health caused-by acknowledging employees and asking questions, you’ll make certain that results are maintained. Showing compassion and interest in employees’ well-being (and stress) leads to high functioning teams. Teams that feel supported, support one another and yield higher results and lower turnover.

Want to talk shop? I’ve helped dozens of organizations with managing emotional stress and ensuring optimal results.

Let’s grab a coffee.

Shannon Pearson


Shannon Pearson is a champion of culture and engagement at incrementa (un)consulting. She helps create high performance teams by connecting people to the organization’s DNA: it’s core values and purpose. Leveraging proven methodologies, she increases engagement and connection while reducing conflict.

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