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4 ways managers can take care of themselves through stressful situations

Remember that you can take some simple, but powerful steps to help you and your team successfully navigate through challenges

4 ways managers can take care of themselves through stressful situations
[Source photo: Alex Gruber/Unsplash]

The new year is still young, and the headlines about layoffs keep coming. If your organization is also going through challenging times, your management and leadership skills are probably being put to the test. Let’s take a look at what you can do to help you and your team navigate stressful situations like layoffs, restructuring, and budget cuts.


We’ve all heard the announcement on airplanes to secure your own oxygen mask before you assist someone else. In other words, before you can be there for your team, you have to first take care of yourself.

It starts with noticing your own mindset and talk track. How do you personally feel about the news and how the changes affect you and your team? What are your biggest concerns about delivering the news to others?

Once you’ve identified and acknowledged your own emotions, ask yourself what you need right now to keep you grounded. By focusing on strategies that already work well for you, you will be able to take the steps you need to take to lead more effectively.

And keep in mind that, as part of the management team, you are always in the “invisible spotlight,” with employees watching and wondering what your behavior really means.  So, how you “show up” matters.

Communicate thoughtfully

If you’ll be the one who communicates the organizational changes to your team, finding the right words can be a real balancing act. Your first instinct may be to encourage others to look on the bright side when they don’t see one. You don’t have to pretend that bad news is good news.

When you lead with the business rationale behind the decision and present things in a more neutral, factual way, it can do more to help everyone move forward. Don’t mind read or assume that you know what people are thinking. Rather, open the door for additional conversations to understand their questions and reactions. Be fully present, listen, and acknowledge their concerns and feelings about the changes with empathy. Showing up in a calm, positive way can have a calming effect on others.


With these business changes, what resources will your team need to stay centered? This may include things like mental health support and ways to escalate their concerns to you or others on the team. Encouraging adequate rest and breaks will help reduce stress, but remember to model the behavior yourself. Otherwise, your encouragement will feel like empty words.

Make sure you also set aside some time to check in more often without a business agenda. This will help you keep the pulse and notice patterns across your team. Use this information to strategize with your peers and Human Resources and to remind your employees about the benefits and programs your company provides.


As a frontline manager, you have already been “in the trenches” during the pandemic, the Great Resignation, and the rise of hybrid work—even before our current economic slowdown. You may feel exhausted just thinking about it. A recent survey found that managers have been experiencing burnout at higher rates than other groups.

To effectively handle the uncertainty and challenges in front of you, you may also need coaching, development, and support—but you may not be getting it. In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly six in 10 respondents said their managers needed more training on how to lead people. And more than one-third said their managers were inadequately trained in areas including communication, staff development, time management, and inclusivity.

Fortunately, with innovative options such as digital and collaborative learning that make development opportunities more accessible and affordable, you can get the tools and training you need to be a more effective frontline manager. Over the past three years, we have seen that training solutions also have to help people feel less alone, more supported, and connected. That’s exactly what led us to create New Lens and implement it in cohorts. As you invest in developing yourself, you will feel less overwhelmed and more ready to tackle what’s ahead.

Although the business climate may be full of uncertainty and difficult news right now, remember that you can take some simple, but powerful steps to help you and your team successfully navigate through it.

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Neena Newberry is the president of Newberry Solutions, the creator of New Lens, and adjunct faculty member at SMU Executive Education. More

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