Stop Rushing At Work: Stress Makes You Less Productive
BY Will Yakowicz
Frenzied behavior in the office reduces your ability to get work done and spreads to your employees like a contagious disease.
If you rush around the office from task to task, demand employees walk with you when they need to talk, and curtly finish their sentences, you need to realize you're not saving any time. In fact, rushing around like a headless chicken will lead your workforce to be more stressed and less productive.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "rushers," people who are incessantly jumping from task to task, adversely affect their entire office. Stress is contagious, and if you're rushing around, your employees will follow your lead.
Robert S. Rubin, an associate professor of management at DePaul University, tells the paper that if leaders are "frenzied and frantic," their employees will take on the same stressful characteristics, as though they were catching a disease. Rubin suggests leaders hold "inoculation discussions, to inoculate the employee from catching the feeling" that rushing through urgent assignments is the only way to be honored as a top performer.
William Arruda, a personal-branding consultant in New York City, says that rushing doesn't help to complete assignments, e-mails, or projects faster. "The productivity of entire teams can go down," Arruda tells WSJ. "If you have one person rushing into meetings at the last minute and tapping a pencil through the entire session, it changes the cadence for the entire group."
The office's layout, especially an open office, can also fuel an atmosphere of stress. If you can see all of your employees from your desk it makes them feel pressure to look busy--to rush through work until they're saved by the 5 o'clock bell. "No one wants to be seen as the slowest moving object in the solar system," Ben Jacobson, co-founder of Conifer Research, tells WSJ. "You have to keep up with the Joneses--literally."
But how can leaders change their behavior? Isn't this how successful companies operate--work comes in, everyone goes into hyper-drive to get it done, more work comes in, and everyone churns out gold? The key is to plan and prioritize instead of being reactive. Being in control instead of being rushed helps your employees to stay calm, avoid stress, and be more productive.
"Executives who have figured it out ... are poised and strategic. That's a big difference from reacting all day," says Susan Hodgkinson, a principal with leadership development and executive coaching firm Personal Brand Co.
So, what kind of leader are you? Have you figured it all out and have stress-free productive employees, or do you not have time to think and believe rushing and reacting are what makes your employees performer better? Let us know what you think about stress contagion in the comments below.
WILL YAKOWICZ is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @WillYakowicz