Distance Decreases Stress

When I’m managing I tend to absorb the stress that my teams feel. It’s my job to help them be successful and to a large degree happy, so when they are stress – especially the frustration kind – I tend to share it with them. It’s human to do that, and in many ways functional, they aren’t “resources” to be used until depleted, they are people and stress has a real impact on productivity.

At the same time a manager has to detach some. Not all stresses can be fixed or reduced, and the work still has to get done. I was remarking to my manager about trying to maintain that balance on a day when I was feeling the frustration more than usual, and her comment was that it was easier for her to see the situation clearly because she wasn’t in the room with them each day. With the benefit of distance she could look at the situation and ask about the challenges calmly and logically. It was, and is, a powerful lesson.

The goal isn’t to reduce the stress of the manager though. It would be easy to create so much distance that the people really were resources and you never felt the stress from the team. Stress on the team is just one factor in the problem, but it can’t be the only factor when you make decisions.