• 04 Oct 2019
  • SBS-ED
  • 6Min

Stress management on and off the work field

Stress management on and off the work field

A stressful, high pressure world of work is much like the rugby field – a place where players (employees) need to develop Big Match Temperament. Their coaches (managers and HR) can help facilitate this:

How can employers manage and handle pressure in the workplace?

  • Open communication
  • Regular feedback and check-ins
  • Training and wellness programmes
  • An environment where it’s OK (and encouraged) to take a break
  • Support for time-off
  • Routines so everyone knows expectations and ways of working

On Friday, 20 September 2019, the ninth Rugby World Cup kicked off in Japan. With the pressures of being in the media spotlight, constant training and their personal lives, the world’s rugby superstars will need nerves of steel when they hit the pitch on this global stage. Similarly, employees need Big Match Temperament (BMT) in the fast-evolving, high-pressure world of work.

What is Big Match Temperament (bmt)?

Big Match Temperament is all about having the ability to perform well in high-pressure situations. And no one epitomises this more than South Africa’s Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, who says that while the Rugby World Cup is going to be a challenge, he and his team are prepared for it. “We are going to make sure we stick to our strengths,” he told media at a recent conference in Japan. This includes mental preparation, which South Africa’s head of athletic performance, Aled Walters, says is critical.

Yet, it’s not just rugby players that face challenges. South African workers across industries require mental toughness and BMT to push through their everyday workloads, pending deadlines and big projects. According to Frontiers in Psychology, talent development that explores sources of stress, provides coping strategies, and methods of recovery from fatigue are all important factors in the training of rugby players––and can be applied to teams in the world of work as well.

Cultivating a big-match temperament

In Focused for Rugby: A proven approach for peak performance, authors Adam Nicholls and Jon Callard highlight the four Cs of mental toughness as integral to champion-winning sides and key factors in developing Big Match Temperament. These can be learnt by sportspeople and employees alike to help individuals take on any challenge:

  • Control. Not being afraid to take control or responsibility of a situation you find yourself in.
  • Commitment. Ensuring you are fully involved and present in your activities and giving your maximum effort.
  • Challenge. Instead of going into a panic, you view a stressful situation as a challenge or problem that needs to be resolved in a logical, strategic manner.
  • Confidence. You strongly believe in your abilities to achieve your goal or the goals of your team.

5 practical steps to harness BMT and work under pressure

Leaders play a large role in the development of mental toughness and Big Match Temperament, which, according to a Bridgebase thread, is a trait that can most definitely be learnt. Use these tips to help create a less stressful environment, and to work on your own Big Match Temperament and help your team recognise theirs.

1. Reduce stress and manage anxiety.

High-pressure environments thrive on stress, however, too much can wreak havoc on employees’ health and productivity. To help your team get their head in the game (no pun intended), CBS Detroit suggests you ensure they know that downtime is not a bad thing. Encourage time for physical activity, offer wellness benefits such as yoga, and set a precedent for people taking time out of their day to stretch their legs (even if it’s for a quick coffee and chat).

2. Develop stress management techniques.

This isn’t always easy, especially in an office environment where last-minute deadlines and impromptu meetings occur daily. Although you may want to shy away from micro-managing your team, setting up a weekly or monthly schedule of pre-planned meetings, catch-ups and activities that everyone can participate in will give everyone laser focus for the tasks at hand. According to Goalcast, regular breaks are an important aspect of a routine and can involve anything from taking a walk outside to answering emails or running errands. This helps reduce the pressure of always being switched on and, in turn, improves concentration – win!

3. Manage expectations.

It’s repeated time and time again but providing your employees with a space where they can communicate with you and each other is an important aspect of team building – and Big Match Temperament. If employees are too afraid to tell you their workload is too much or they are going through a stressful time, they will only become more anxious and, in turn, less productive. Try meeting one-on-one with each of your team members if your organisation is small and speak about problems they are facing or work together to create a game plan to reduce the pressure they feel.

4. Be competitive – in a healthy way.

Competition can be a catalyst for improvement and the workplace is the perfect place to foster healthy rivalry that drives results, says Entrepreneur. Setting goals and rewarding your team’s best performance helps to prompt healthy competition, as does honest performance feedback that allows individuals to keep growing and developing.

5. Know when to stop.

Most busy people find it difficult to relax or unplug from their schedules and workloads. While this is often a commendable trait, the stress and pressure from always being on the go can lead to burnout. Which is why, according to The Muse, it’s important to know when you are close to your breaking point, no matter what this point may look like. If you’re running at half-capacity or are making small errors of judgement, it’s definitely time to take a step back. Do this by taking a day off to catch up on sleep or your favourite TV shows, going for a bike ride or rounding up your team for after-work drinks.

Many may not know how to deal with stress whether in their professional or personal lives. Through our Master Class in Resolving Strategic Complexity course you can learn to develop healthy stress management techniques which will provide you with the necessary skills to handle stress, work under pressure and manage anxiety. These coping mechanisms will afford you the opportunity to perform well under such pressures.

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