At the low point of the recent recession, managers who let their guard down lost a chance to uplift their employees. Fretting, exasperated supervisors left their subordinates feeling like helpless victims.
In a study by Towers Watson, a consulting firm, employees mentioned negative incidents involving their supervisors 26 percent more than positive ones. Predictably, the negative situations resonated more deeply and proved more intense than positive encounters.
"Managers have a special power to evoke workplace anxiety, and an equal capacity for helping employees deal with it," consultant Thomas Davenport wrote in the report.
To alleviate swirling anxiety at work, open the floodgates so that people can commiserate in a supportive environment. When workers can freely express their fears, they will realize they're not alone and that their managers care.
Better yet, take every opportunity to highlight what's good or admirable about each of your employees. Praise their character as well as their work product. Cite examples of their impressive behavior or decision-making. Hail their resilience based on how they've weathered challenges in the past.
Your ability to buck up your workers won't transform them into confident optimists. But at least you will relieve some of their stress and help them confront adversity with a healthy dose of perspective.