You all know that too much stress is bad for you—and for your teams, your productivity and your results. How can you keep your team's work stress in check while still maintaining your edge and getting things done? Here are some ideas:
Takeoff and landing time. Try to stay out of your team members' way during the first and last hour of the workday. Encourage them to use this time to check voice mail and e-mail, make plans and come to you if they need something. However, don't add to your own stress by jumping up to put out any fires. Establish a time to follow up on team members' requests later in the day. The key is for everyone to be in control of their own time—a major asset in a stressful environment.
New information tools. Another major stress factor at work is not knowing what's going on, particularly in times of change. But bombarding your team with e-mails or holding frequent staff meetings can create stress by causing a time crunch. Consider creating an information tool where people can turn when they want or need to know. You could use a bulletin board or a page on an intranet (basically, an internal blog) where you post information as you receive it.
Time and toys for fun. It's best to be open-minded about what constitutes "fun" for your team. Many top-down stress-relief efforts flop because they strike workers as silly or annoying. But keep your eyes open for what your people do naturally to defuse work stress—play games, socialize, eat—and look for ways to build on those activities with managerial support.