"An Early Warning System for Team’s Stress Level"
As the CEO of a global oil company who had risen through the ranks, Michel had faced many stressful events on off-shore rigs early in his career, and considered himself to be a tough guy with no tolerance for wimps. But with intense media and regulatory focus on oil prices adding complexity to a current restructuring in the organization, Michel was now facing an internal crisis that he had not foreseen.
In the past year, two members of his team had disappeared into a “black hole” of long-term sick leave (as he thought of it). On Monday, a third person — a colleague who often picked up slack for others as well as being a source of great ideas — advised him that she had been put on leave due to stress-related burnout. Michel was annoyed with her, but also with himself. Now his team was seriously compromised. Why hadn’t he seen this coming? What was going on?
The tipping point of distress
A recent study suggested that work-related stress in the UK in 2015-2016 accounted for 37% of all ill-health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health across all industries and professions. This study identified workload pressure (including tight deadlines and too much responsibility) and lack of managerial support as the main work factors mentioned by employees causing work-related stress. This raises a long-recognized conundrum: pressure to perform is only effective to a certain, unpredictable degree.
Evaluating signs of stress
Inspired by aviation and medical best practices for handling crises, we developed a simple yet robust protocol that helps managers and HR professionals to identify cases of potential high stress. Rather than being a test, survey, or assessment tool, the Stress-APGAR provides a set of guidelines that help HR professionals and managers to think about and articulate factors that may lead to burnout or other stress-related mental health issues of their staff.
The Stress-APGAR protocol looks at the following dimensions:
By looking out for subtle signs and symptoms of stress, the Stress-APGAR dimensions, when taken together, can be used as a barometer that indicates changes in an individuals’ internal pressure system. The tool can be especially effective amongst employees who are often reluctant to talk about their problems. The approach of paying attention to signs, and empathetically asking open questions can have a positive effect, reducing social isolation and eventually helping the individual to open-up. Once trust is established in this way, it is often easier for the person at risk to make the causes of their stress a discussable subject, as well as create a springboard for what can be done to help them.
HBR, 2017Read more
"Personailty and techno-stress"
Published on 25 May, 2016
"World Mental Health Day: Mental health issues in the workplace"
Published on 10 Oct, 2017
"Profiel fo a tansfor- mational leadership programme"
This paper explores the impact of a transformational leadership development program on the lives of its participants after a one year interval.
Published on 4 Mar, 2009
"Do less instead of doing too much"
This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review argues that the biggest problem we have in contemporary society is not that we do too little but that we try to do too much.
Published on 10 Dec, 2013
"Down the rabbit hole of shame"
Shame is part of the human experience. Keeping your feelings of shame in perspective can relieve you of a harmful tendency to self-blame, and, eventually, make peace with your shadow side. Knowing that you are good enough, worthwhile, and deserving of love and acceptance is essential for building resilience and living your most authentic life.
Published on 1 Jun, 2017
"Effective vs ineffective global leaders"
This article explores what leaders have to do to be effective. What roles do they have to play? What distinguishes an effective leader from an ineffective global leader?
Published on 1 Jun, 2002
Through coaching work with senior executives, Manfred Kets de Vries explores why many suffer from profound periods of unhappiness despite having external success.
Published on 7 Dec, 2007
"What role does money play in our lives"
This paper explores the role money plays in our lives.
Published on 5 Apr, 2006
"Psycho- dynamic issues in leadership studies"
This chapter reviews psychodynamic issues in leadership theory, leadership in organisations, and leadership development.
Published on 1 Apr, 2013
"Assessing psychological risk factors of leaders"
This blog presents a quick assessment of psychological risk factors for high performing individuals.
Published on 18 Apr, 2015