So you’re onto your 2nd glass of Jameson, and it’s only 4:00 on a Tuesday. No judgement, but if that has anything to do with the stress of managing people, I’d read this blog as you sip. As I said in my previous post, there are many factors that can contribute to this stress. So what can you do about it?
There are countless options, both for making your life better and that of your staff. In this post I offer up three potential solutions for you as a manager, in no specific order, to dealing productively with any difficult management situation. Then stay tuned for part three of this series, when I offer solutions to make things better for your staff.
Solution 1: Rehearsed Responses & Reactions
This is a fantastic tip a friend of mine gave me that she learned from her therapist. If you often react poorly to stressful situations, that’s become a habit. And like most habits, it’s going to be hard to change. As we discussed in part one with AF (Adrenal Fatigue), your body may even be working against you.
The idea of rehearsed reactions is that you have pre-meditated reactions to stressful triggers in your life. For example, I’m constantly asking reception to keep the kitchen clean, and I know that seeing it dirty elicits a negative reaction in me. My usual MO is to internally get annoyed, then immediately say something, which often comes off less than positive, because I’m annoyed and project that.
A rehearsed reaction to this could be: If I see the kitchen dirty, I’m going to first pause and count to 10. If I still feel wound up then I’m going to walk out of the room for a couple minutes and think about the words I use. When I walk back in, I’m going to first check with reception to see if they are having any issues they need help with (maybe something prevented them from being able to clean?) If not, I’m going to politely ask if they could please spend a few minutes cleaning up the kitchen. Perhaps a specific task- ‘Can you please change the trash, and wipe up around the stove?’ Before I leave, I’m going to say thank you.
Does this sound a bit ridiculous and overly calculated? Maybe. But you know what it doesn’t sound like? A bitchy manager who just snaps orders at people without pausing to consider the work they are doing or may need help with, or thanking them for their time and effort. Gotta say that if I had to choose, I’m happy with option A.
The idea with rehearsed reactions is that eventually you won’t need them. Your habits will have changed to actually reacting like that without having to think about it. For instance, maybe you want to show more praise to your staff but don’t think to say things off the cuff. You could program your phone to remind you once a day at different times to give thanks to the person working. The thanks could be genuine (should be!) but by giving yourself a new habit, eventually giving consistent praise will feel more natural.
Solution 2: Reducing Adrenal Fatigue
None of the solutions I offer today or in my future posts will make a difference if you don’t also reduce your stress to begin with. I have every intention to speak kindly to people but when my stress is triggered it’s sometimes like an out of body experience of how I’m reacting. I can feel it happening but in that moment can’t seem to slow it down.
We must work to reduce our daily stress. I’ll leave this one pretty short, because this will vary drastically for each of you. You know what is best for your body and life, but so often we fail to honor that! I challenge you with this post to try and change even one small habit to fight against your stress. Get one extra hour of sleep a night, or add 30 minutes of time outside to your day. Write in a journal, meditate, or go get some anger out in kickboxing. Whatever it is, do something, today.
Solution 3: Remembering You’re Human (No, really.)
If there’s one piece of my own advice that I need to deeply swallow myself, it’s to not be so hard on myself. I’ve struggled with this my entire life. I have expectations for myself beyond what any human is capable of. Not only is this setting myself up for failure, it’s also doing the same to those around me. I strongly believe we project onto others what we are dealing with ourselves.
As I discussed in the first post, I often have unrealistic expectations for those around me, causing them to fall short. Not only is this unfair to them, when those shortfalls happen it triggers immense stress in me. Not inherently because ‘they didn’t do their job’, but because it pulls at this incessant and internal game of “Did I do enough?” tug of war.
For instance, when a staff member messes up something, my surface reaction may be annoyance at them or the situation, but the much deeper reaction is usually along the lines ‘I didn’t do something right.’ Sometimes these are legitimate, like “If I had fixed that booking issue last week like I meant to, they wouldn’t have checked this person in incorrectly”, while some are just my insecurities.
A common one I have is “I clearly didn’t train them well enough”, as if a transient traveler learning reception is going to be perfectly trained and never have a question or mess something up. Even if it was a long time employee, that person is still going to make mistakes. It’s not only absurd to think that they will be perfect, but to assume that I could have reached that state of training perfection as well. When everything feels like it’s falling apart, take a deep breath, and remember that (crazy, drunk guests aside), we aren’t saving lives here.
So What Have I Learned?
I’ve always been hard on myself, but I began to realize it wasn’t stopping with just me. It was only when I saw the effects of this stress projected onto those around me that I finally started letting go a bit.
I think one of the hardest things has been to realize that sometimes my inability to manage stress well - and therefore, manage staff well - had detrimental effects to the hostel operating and those in it. Maybe detrimental is a bit strong (case in point of being too hard on myself!), but unfortunately I know there were times when I made employees feel disrespected, undervalued, or belittled. While it’s hard for me to admit that, especially when it was never my intention, I also consider myself lucky enough to have been called out on it. How else can we grow?
A hostel is about community, and that doesn’t just go for the guests. You definitely have a different sense of purpose when you realize it isn’t all about you, and that your attitude and actions affect everyone around you. Perhaps one of the hardest parts about managing people is remembering that they too are just people, who deserve love and respect, no matter how stressful your day is. It’s still a really tough process for me, and we all have our own BS to deal with. But like a wise friend once told another who was ready to say “I love you” to someone after the first date, “Internalize that shit.”
What solutions have you found with managing people, or in general for managing stress? How do you deal with it all? Sign in and comment below!
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