By Martin Goodyer (United Kingdom)
Stress all starts with a belief that ‘things are as they are, and that’s that!’ Often managers believe that stress is useful, and that it needs to be embraced because it helps the job get done quicker, better, or more efficiently. On the other hand, they may also accept that stress can be bad for you, that it’s better if you have less stress, or if you do get stressed, that you have a way of managing it. The difference between the two is usually that the first applies to the people who work for them, while the second is how they think about themselves.
It turns out that both are factually accurate, but only if they are actually believed: One of the most quoted studies into stress started just before the end of the last century; 30,000 adults in the United States were questioned about their stress experience and if they believed it was harmful to their health. 8 years later the 30,000 were analysed to establish how many had died, and how that might relate to their beliefs about stress; it appeared that those with high levels of stress may have increased their risk of dying by 43%, ouch! However, what’s interesting is that this increased risk of death was only reflected in those people who already believed that stress was bad for them. It may sound weird, but the research suggests that those who admitted having high levels of stress, but didn’t see it as harmful were not more likely to die than anyone else; even more strangely, their risk appeared lower that those who reported not being very stressed at all. It’s a disturbing piece of evidence for anyone who has bought into the idea that stress is the enemy; stress might not be the enemy at all, in fact, it could be that it’s the idea that stress is the enemy that’s causing people to have problems, and maybe even dying early. It’s clear, therefore, that if coaching in the workplace is to improve managerial effectiveness, it needs to do something about changing managerial beliefs about the causes and effects of stress. If they are to be more effective, and keep their employees from an early grave, then they must find a way to prevent stress getting in the way of performance.
About Martin Goodyer
Martin Goodyer, author of ‘How to be a Great Coach; brilliant coaching conversations’ is a thought-leader in coaching application and practice. ‘HALT!’ A coaching-in-the-moment handbook for managers is soon to be published by the iABCt and will be available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. For more details email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com