It's not easy being the boss, especially when deadlines loom and work-related pressure mounts. But if you don't learn to cope with on-the-job stress, your team's performance is likely to suffer for it.

Unfortunately, one out of every three managers is ill equipped to handle a high-pressure situation, according to data from leadership training company VitalSmarts. As such, those same people are likely to communicate poorly during a so-called crisis, thereby worsening the situation at hand.

Not only are stress-prone bosses bad at managing their own teams, but they're also more likely to struggle with deadlines, mismanage budgets, and engage in behavior that drives customers away. If you don't have the greatest track record of managing stressful situations, it's imperative that you take steps to change your ways and improve your coping skills. Otherwise, you risk not only failing at work but bringing your team down with you.

Man in suit yelling.


Are you falling short when the going gets rough?

As a manager, it's hard to stay cool under pressure all of the time. But if you consistently have difficulty handling stress, it's time to devise a better means of coping. This especially holds true if you have a tendency to do the following in high-stakes situations:

  • Yell instantly
  • Speak before hearing your employees out
  • Bark orders rather than take the time to explain how you want things to get done

Not only are the above behaviors ineffective at mobilizing employees, but they're also more likely to result in an uptick in worker dissatisfaction. An estimated 56% of workers are more likely than not to shut down and disengage when their bosses fly off the handle during periods of stress. Meanwhile, 49% are less likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, while 47% are more likely to grow frustrated and angry themselves.

And of course, the kicker: A good 62% of workers are likely to consider quitting their jobs when managed by someone who can't keep his or her cool.

So how can you strive to do better? First, come up with stress-reduction tactics that work well for you, whether it's a few minutes of meditation in the morning or a quick breath of fresh air as needed. Sometimes, physically picking yourself up and removing yourself from a stressful office can work wonders for your own outlook.

Additionally, think about the way you treat your employees during periods of stress, and focus on actionable items rather than on placing blame. It's far more effective to give strong, clear directions than to lash out when there's a real risk of missing a deadline.

Another thing: Much of the time, stressful situations at work aren't caused by your direct reports but rather by the people above you. As such, you should focus on the fact that you and your employees are on the same side and that if you work together, you might mitigate an otherwise taxing situation.

The upside of improving your reactions to stress

Learning to control your reactions won't just make you a better boss; it'll help you achieve better results on the whole. In fact, managers who display good coping and communication skills in high-stakes situations are more likely to:

  • Have more engaged teams with higher levels of morale
  • Meet deadlines
  • Stay on budget
  • Act in a manner that improves customer relations

It's one thing to crack on occasion when things heat up at work, but it's another thing to consistently blow up in the face of pressure. If the latter sounds more like you, and your efforts to better cope aren't fruitful, consider whether you belong in a management role in the first place. If you do some soul searching, you might find that you're better suited to a lower-profile role in which you can more easily blend into the background when things go south.