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Leading New Managers Through Stressful Times

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Meredith Rosson, the assistant general manager of Cooper Fitness Center, shares tips for leading new managers through stressful times.

During today’s pandemic, first-time managers are experiencing high stress situations, leaving them feeling ill-equipped to guide a team or company through it. So how do you ensure your team is well prepared to help your company survive?

The psychological state in which people experience both a sense of vitality and learning is called thriving. Experienced leaders or business owners can help new managers grow, develop and feel energized about the possibilities right in front of them during this time. Creating this resiliency in your management team now will be your ticket to future survival and success. Without a sense of urgency, change can often be discarded or challenging to prompt. Sometimes the most necessary changes occur with massive disruptors. Too much change can cause distress, leading managers to freeze, flee or fight based upon confusion in communication, trust and/or safety.

Press the Reset Button Together

Adaptive leaders use this time to hit the reset button within the organization. However, how you do this is more important than just doing it. In an effort to not overload your team, you may feel like you need to find the holes and come up with solutions alone. Take some of this pressure off of yourself. Your team is facing a lot of change from external stressors they cannot control, so why not allow them to be a part of the solution to regain some control? 

Take this opportunity to create a model that doesn’t discredit any idea, but instead gives guidance to the top priority challenges, asks the team for innovative ideas and then uses the team to prioritize ideas while the leader drives the discussion. Each individual presents an idea and makes a case as to why it will help with company culture, organizational structure, customer experience or any challenge on your list. By enlisting their knowledge to help identify possible solutions side-by-side, you create a “buy in” effect. Your leadership skills help endorse the ideas you think could be most impactful and helpful.

Drive Excitement Into Change

Help your team view this as an opportunity to be a vital part of the change within the company as a leader and then recognize, acknowledge and celebrate the ability to adapt.

  • Pay attention to what you say—both out loud with your words and non-verbally with your body language. Negativity demonstrated in either of these ways can hinder attempts to promote the need for change. You should acknowledge the reality of the situation you face, while coupling it with the opportunity to grow and learn. Using honest, inspiring, change-provoking and team-oriented communication allows new leaders to become part of the solution.
  • Notice the drive. Intentionally seek ways your managers are driving change to adapt and align with the new direction your team has selected to help the company persevere. How are they pivoting in their departments, in their management style, their communication or any other area?
  • Acknowledge efforts. Let your team know you see the effort and behaviors. Give specific feedback to support their continued success. Point out the courage, innovation and resiliency you see in their efforts and remember to tie it back to company goals, encouraging them to embrace change without fear of failure.
  • Celebrate successes. As leaders we can be so goal-oriented and conditioned to consistently improve that we forget to reflect and celebrate our success. Share and celebrate the adaptations your managers are making to drive success. Be creative and inject fun into the process of change.

The art of leadership falls within the ability to navigate the rough waters while maintaining productivity with your team. This pandemic will not be the last time to lead a team through high stress. Understand this unique opportunity to provide the framework in how your managers view challenges and changes and start leading new managers through these stressful times today.

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Meredith Rosson

Meredith Rosson is the assistant general manager of Cooper Fitness Center, a 50,000-square-foot lifestyle, wellness and fitness facility located in Dallas, Texas. Meredith studied Exercise Physiology at University of Texas at Austin and has held integral leadership roles that have developed success in more than 13 departments since 2006. She is a member of The Women in Fitness Association and a former personal trainer. She can be reached at: mrosson@cooperfitnesscenter.com.

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