Work stress is not necessarily a negative force. In fact, without a certain level of stress to challenge us, our jobs would be boring and unrewarding. Stress becomes a problem, however when it builds to such an extreme that we are unable to cope with it. The solution to stress therefore is not to eliminate it altogether but to maintain it at a level where it remains a positive motivating force. Here are seven ideas to help you manage stress at the press as a print professional.
- Create a pleasant work environment for your self
If you spend a great deal of time in your press, make it pleasant without being self indulgent. Convert your tired office into a place for you to enjoy art piece, rug, greenery, bookcase, paintings tapestries, discipline yourself to keep your desk and press uncluttered.
- Keep stress in perspective
Regularly remind yourself that your role as a leader affords you a unique opportunity to serve for the greater good. When facing a difficult call like not meeting up the delivery date of a customer’s job or error in printing that can lead to re-printing the job, remember that your customers and staff are depending upon you to make a good decision. This humbling reminder helps you reframe the stressful issue and focus on pursing the path with the best possible outcome for the broader population.
- Burn the stress off by moving your body.
There are very few prescriptions for managing your stress levels better than moving your body, ideally in the form of a strenuous workout. The physiological benefits of exercise are well-established and most organizations encourage and even offer incentives for employees to exercise more. It is ideal if you have access nearby to facilities for a lunch hour workout. If not, hit the stairs or head outside for a vigorous walk. If you cannot wait for lunch or the end of the work day, cancel one of the endless status meetings on your calendar and use the time to exercise.
- Rewire your thinking about stress.
Our typical reaction to stress created by uncertainty or sudden change is fear, especially of losing a loyal customer or suffering a loss from a printing job as a result of an avoidable error. Instead of reacting in this manner, work to calm yourself and shift your thinking to view unanticipated events and stressors as important challenges. While the words are easy and the works difficult, when presented with difficult situations such as this, repeat an internal mantra that says, “This is a great challenge and I am here at this time to help with and learn from this challenge.” The better you become at shifting from the fear response to the challenge response, the more effective you will be in channeling the stress for performance improvement. Model this behavior openly and work on teaching your team members to respond to stressful events in the same manner.
- Engage and involve your team members.
Too many press owners and managers bottle-up their stress, wrongly believing they must shoulder the burden all by themselves. While there are some decisions that only you as the leader can make, many stress-inducing situations will become easier to navigate if you explain the issue and involve your team members in developing solutions. Resist the urge to go silent on the tough issues.
- Fine-tune your signal-to-noise ratio.
When faced with difficult circumstances, it is easy to lose track of where you should focus. If the fear-receptors have triggered confusion and anxiety, you may very well fail and not focus on finding a solution. Pause a bit and review your activities to separate out those issues that are core to the situation versus those that are extraneous noise. Focus solely on the core topics until the situation is resolved.
- Be Selective about what you take on
Resist the urge to take on every printing job that comes to your press. Remember that you are judged by the work you complete, not on the amount you take on. Slow down, be selective and learn to delegate duties and responsibilities. Say ‘no’ a little more often. Accepting all the jobs everytime may not be necessary for you to succeed in the long run. Learn to discern what is worth being competitive about and what and what isn’t. Focus on the things that really matter that you have the capacity to handle.
- Develop a support system for yourself
Some people lean on their faith for support. Others look to great examples in history.
Create an informal support network which will enable you to let off steam, receive moral support, accept helpful advice, and share ideas and feelings in a leisure or social setting. The network might comprise mentors, professional colleagues, friends or relatives- but make sure they are positive, trustworthy and enthusiastic and not prophets of doom and gloom.
Stress is and always will be a part of leading. Your challenge is to identify techniques for channeling stress to bring out the best in yourself and your team at the press. While no one heads to work hoping for a stressful day, you are encouraged to smile at the thought of the difficult issues and remind yourself that you are in a unique position at the right point in time to navigate these issues. Stress goes with the territory- it comes with the job, learn to manage it!