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Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout: 7 Tips for Operations Leaders

Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout: 7 tips for operations leaders

As an Operations Leader, you play a critical role in managing teams, processes, and operations to ensure the smooth functioning of your organization. 

But for as rewarding as your job might be, the demands of your role can sometimes lead to stress and burnout (if not managed properly)!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stress is defined as a “state of worry or mental tension, caused by a difficult situation.” 

On top of that, while not classified as a medical condition, burnout is included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as a “syndrome” specific to the workplace. 

So, are you ready to take proactive steps to manage stress and avoid burnout? 

Here are some tips to help you prioritize your well-being and effectively lead your team!

7 Steps to Managing Stress in the Workplace

  1. Practice Self-Care | You know how flight attendants always instruct passengers to ‘put your oxygen mask on first’? As an Operations Leader, you need to take care of yourself first! It might seem counterintuitive, but the fact remains: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure to prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks throughout the day. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it’s necessary for your overall well-being and ability to handle stress.
  1. Set Realistic Expectations | Operations Leaders often face high expectations from their superiors, teams, and themselves. It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your team to avoid unnecessary stress. Sound overwhelming? Try this: clearly define goals and deadlines, communicate them to your team, and be mindful of not overloading yourself or your team with unrealistic expectations.
  1. Delegate and Empower | Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to your team members, and empower them to take ownership of their responsibilities! Distributing workload and responsibilities not only lightens your load, but it also better develops the skills and capabilities of your team. Delegation can help reduce stress and prevent burnout by making sure tasks are distributed evenly, and not solely reliant on one single person (you).
  1. Practice Effective Time Management | Operations Leaders often have many different responsibilities to juggle simultaneously. Effective time management can help you stay organized, prioritize tasks, and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Use tools like iPhone calendars, Notes app to-do lists, and project management software (Trello, Hootsuite, Basecamp) to help you stay on top of your work and manage your time effectively.
  1. Foster a Supportive Work Environment | It’s true! Creating a supportive work environment can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Encourage open communication, provide regular feedback, recognize and reward achievements, and promote work-life balance within your team. Foster a culture of mutual support, collaboration, and inclusivity that prioritizes the well-being and mental health of all team members.
  1. Seek Support | Say it with us: it’s okay to ask for help and seek support when you need it. Talk to your manager, mentor, or a trusted colleague about any challenges or stressors you’re facing. Feeling like you need a little more than a friendly shoulder to lean on? Don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor, if needed! Remember: you are not alone, and there are plenty of resources available to support you in managing stress and avoiding burnout.
  1. Think Outside the Box | In addition to the more conventional strategies mentioned above, consider incorporating less conventional and more unique approaches to managing stress and avoiding burnout. This could include activities such as mindfulness meditation, art therapy, yoga, crafting, walking your dog, or outdoor activities like hiking or gardening. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you!

You Can Be a Balanced, Stress-Free Leader

As an Operations Leader, it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being and effectively manage stress to avoid burnout. Unfortunately, being in your role can bring you into contact with plenty of different stressors!

Here’s the good news: you don’t have to tackle everything all at once. 

The first step is to recognize the warning signs. Are you feeling tired, moody, or agitated? Are you feeling particularly cynical about your work, or feel that you’re ineffective? If so, try to pinpoint the source of your stress and take the steps to reduce it.

At the end of the day, taking intentional, practical steps to reduce and manage your stress will help you be more productive and effective—both at work, and at home!

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