Small Business and Resilience to Stress
Small business has certainly had its challenges with rising economic pressures and focus on short-term results. Business owners and their staff are working under prolonged conditions of stress, with little support on how to manage and reduce it. Workplace stress is costing Australian businesses $10.2 billion dollars a year and 3.2 days per employee are lost each year due to workplace stress. Stress is one of the fastest growing areas of workers compensation claims and employee absences. Did you know that 21.6 percent of all Australian employees suffer stress that affects their productivity and ability to work effectively and nine out of ten employees rate the workplace as their number one stressor? More than 20 percent of all Australian employees suffer stress that affects their productivity and ability to work effectively. So what is creating this stress? Is there a way to start feeling calmer and emotionally composed when so many demands and constraints are placed upon us? Stress arises when two situations occur. The first is when we are presented with demands and pressures that are not matched with our knowledge and abilities to cope with them. The second is when we feel that we are not in control of a situation or have limited options available to change our circumstances. We often believe that the vents in our lives are responsible for out feelings of stress, and that our circumstances determine the way we feel. In adopting this belief we become a victim to our circumstances, allowing them to control our emotions and our mental wellbeing. To challenge this notion, we first need to understand how stress actually comes about. It happens in three stages. Have a think about how this applies to you and your stressful situations:
- We first experience an event, situation or circumstance
- We then have a thought about the event
- We then experience an emotion about it
It is our thoughts about a situation that determine the way we feel. Stress is a feeling and what causes that feeling is what we are thinking. We do not have a stressful feeling without first having a stressful thought.
Everyday we think approximately 60,000 thoughts. Amazingly, about 90 percents of these thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday. So that is about 54,000 of the same thoughts flowing through our mind every day. Even more interesting is that most of these 54,000 thoughts are negative in nature.
BUSINESS RESILIENCE BUILDERS
The following are seven Business Resilience Builders to consider:
- Go Back To Basics
Ask yourself “What is the problem we are here to solve and what is the best way to help our customers solve it?” Align your key activities to the answer.
- Get Focussed
Know the strengths of each of your employees and use their talents to help make your business grow and become more efficient. Get the right people doing the right things.
- Have a Good Plan
Get smart about the “How To” to achieve your results and know what could derail your strategic plan upfront, so that you can plan for its eventuality. Half the challenge is being confident that your current actions will lead to the outcomes you expect.
- Become Value Driven
Know your customers business well, so that you can deliver an exceptional value proposition. Show potential clients how your solution will achieve their desired results and that the ROI is realistic and attainable.
- Get Out the Box
Brainstorm new approaches and offerings to market with your team. Get them involved in creating irresistible offers that are fresh, affordable and that will outsmart your competition.
- Build a Resilient Culture
Support your employees in managing and reducing their stress by knowing, caring about and helping to resolve their challenges. Develop a culture of collaboration, optimism and productivity and weed out blame, politics and pessimism.
- Respect Your Time
People only respect our time when we respect it as well. Treat each moment and each day as precious time and focus your efforts on what you believe are the urgent and most important of your tasks. So how do we take control and manage out thoughts and out stress more constructively? Managing stress resides in our ability to build resilience. Put simply, the more resilient we are the less stress affects us. The following are three “Personal Resilience Builders” that can help manage and reduce out stress.
- Transform your Thought Attacks™
A thought attack is what happens when your mind turns on itself and attacks any possibility of a positive outlook. Once a Thought Attack™ enters your mind it starts to attract similar thoughts and begins to snowball. It gains further momentum until feelings of stress, anxiety or panic set in. So how do you become conscious of your Thought Attacks™? The answer is the Red Card. In a football game, a referee will often pull out a red card from his pocket and send a player off the field. The referee has deemed the player’s actions to be so negative and damaging that the player is send off the field to cool down. So how do we use the Red Card to transform our Thought Attacks™? Whenever you feel a Thought Attack™ coming on, give yourself a Red Card and follow these three points.
1. These thoughts are harmful to me
2. I can choose different thoughts
3. How else can I interpret thisStep 1. Recognising that your Thought Attacks™ are actually harming you. The situation is not the cause of your stress, it is your negative interpretation of it that is causing you to feel tense and this pressure is not good for you.
Step 2. Acknowledge that you have the power to choose different thoughts. No one is forcing you to think in this particular way, you have the power to choose different thoughts about the situation. You are not a victim to your situation or thoughts.
Step 3. Ask yourself: Is there another way I can interpret this situation? Start to think about the situation in another way. Search for a new meaning in this challenging circumstance. Think about the positive aspects that may arise from it. Think about what opportunities can come about because of it.
- Tell A Different Story Often we are unaware that the majority of our communication consists of telling stories about the experiences we have had. What stories are you telling about your stressful experiences in your business? Are you painting a picture of doom and gloom or could you relate it in a more positive way? Commit to only talking about your challenges in a positive light.
- Keep Perspective In a stressful moment, it is easy to catastrophise and lose perspective. This most often occurs when we feel threatened or fearful about the consequences of a situation. In these circumstances, evaluate the things you can and cannot control. If you feel you have lost perspective, consult a colleague or a coach to get more clarity and objectivity. Once we have built our inner resilience we can then take the next step in building a resilient business that will withstand turbulent times.
Meiron Lees is Executive Director of specialist SME training and coaching business InnerCents (innercents.com.au). He is also the author of D-Stress: Building Resilience in Challenging Times.