To get started, ask yourself: how do I manage stress at work? A bit intriguing-usual question for a support manager. Dozens of various studies during the last decades had proved that there is a growing amount of people who suffer from work-related stress. Support people are also counted in that “amount of people.”
It might be useful to give a little background here. Day by day you are tossed from demands, emails, and complaints of various complexity. On the top of this everything is done in a fast-paced, multi-tasked environment. Naturally, you spend a lot of time refining the quality of customer service you provide, but this makes you prone to either acute or chronic stress.
How Stress Affects Health and Performance
Once you start your working day with the feeling some symptoms of stress, it might be quite challenging to finish the day. Let me toss some statistics at you, (there are no exact numbers, but still, it is pretty descriptive). Support agents, who can’t manage stress and conversely, suffer from high-stress levels show an increased amount of sick leave, disengagement, lowered productivity and high absenteeism.
Besides, the support service teams usually have a higher (in comparison to other departments within a company) employee turnover. It is directly connected to the stress support managers experience. Every company spends massive investments of time and money on recruiting and training decent customer service managers. And to prove company’s money well-spent, businesses are also taken into account the dangers of stress.
Unfortunately, the inability to manage stress and its harmful consequences (disordered eating, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and chronic pain) are becoming common knowledge. However, if driving force of your life - your work - causes this stress, what should you do then? Nobody was born into the role they currently have, so it is urgently important to mitigate the triggers and manage the already acquired effects of the stress.
Carry the Palm and Manage Stress Properly
Sometimes, it seems that you are riding the crazy train doing your job. Among numerous essential skills of a successful customer support manager, managing stress is treated as professional. Usually, support people share burnouts of two types: (a) repetitive routine requests and (b) frustrated customers. Other examples of complicated, yet short-lived situations are a frustrating talk with a teammate and an upcoming deadline.
Get ready: there is no an elegant solution to a perpetual problem of acute stress of support manager’s work that can transform a daily routine and release you from stress. But don’t be down in the dumps. These situations are temporary, and the feeling of stress dissipate when they pass. In some cases, the stress can take on a role of a motivator that encourages (sometimes, egg you on) to respond to a challenge. Everything in life and business should have a golden middle to be satisfying and comfortable. The same thing applied to the stress. Once it becomes prolonged or frequent, you become prone to chronic health issues and show the worst side of you as a support manager.
The most spread symptoms of stress are shallow breathing, upset stomach, fatigue, sweating, chest pain, and rapid heartbeat. Once you are aware that feeling is imminent, you can manage stress before it overwhelms you. Here are two shortlists of approaches that will help you to handle pressure and save your working day.
Live a Less Stressful Life
#1 Learn to breathe
When the stress symptoms are looming on the horizon, you need to confront them at the very beginning. Either you are on the phone with a customer or in the middle of the meeting, try an “equal breathing” yoga technique. It is easy enough for everyone. Inhale through the nose (and count in mind to four) and exhale through the nose (and count in mind to four). Repeat this exercise a couple of time. As a result, it helps you to lower blood pressure, clear your head, and block a fight-or-flight body response. So, you are in control of your body and mind.
#2 Care of yourself
Manage stress. It is easier to say than to do. No wonder that this ability requires discipline and willpower. Well, it is hard to display when you are experiencing elevated stress. Support managers (as well as any other employees) keep to eat comfort food, sleep less, eager to be alone, and the like. However, these “shelters” won’t help you to combat stress.
Remember stress has a physical component, so you need to have enough energy. And it is high time to jump on the bandwagon of a healthy lifestyle. Start with getting enough sleep and eating nourishing food, and try to lower the amount of sugar and caffeine. Instead of sugar, try high-protein snack, and you prevent possible emotional reactions and vulnerability on the lack of sugar. Drink plenty of water during the day - dehydration can make you feel foggy or frustrated. Plus, create a new rule to do some physical exercise - this will boost your cheerfulness. Yet, bring changes into your lifestyle gradually to avoid shock or pressure on yourself.
#3 Maintain work/life balance
The time you spend away from work allows decreasing the impact of various stressors. Take a walk with your loved ones, and this will switch your attention and heal you a little bit. Another vital thing is to leave the work behind the office doors. Turn off your laptop and stop checking email or Slack. There are two spheres of your life, so don’t mix them up.
One more tip about work/life balance. You can put a photo with your loved ones on your desk and look at it in stressful situations. That will remind: dealing with customers is your job and your loved ones in your life.
Run a Flexible Working Day
#1 Plan ahead
The daily routine of a support manager demands high flexibility and adaptability. There will always appear pop up, issues and interactions that take much more time than you were expecting and the like. You shouldn’t sit on the edge of the seat everytime anything comes up. Instead, consider about adding the structure to your working day and reduce the number of triggers so that you could manage stress better.
Draw a broad plan of your activities for a day, week, and month. Don’t forget about leaving space for the so-called “adjustments.” You never know what unforeseen events may come. In that way, you will budget your time and avoid trapping by own schedule.
#2 Don’t take job stuff personally
The controversy over offering the outstanding and profitable customer service is to provide personalized help, but don’t take it personally. In the run for gaining client’s loyalty, let the negative of the interaction in the messaging and keep the distance to turn the conflictual exchange around, if it is possible. Try to understand: customer frustration has nothing to do with you. More than often, they even don’t have an idea about their impact on you. So, you need to ignore any personal attacks or exaggerations. And sometimes it is normal to say “no” to a customer, and go to another client who needs your help.
#3 Be ready to ask for help
Every journey of problem-solving starts with framing. If you are dealing with the issue and the only result is stress - don’t be reach out for help. To avoid the increasing the stress levels and feeling powerless, ask your teammate for insight or delegate a small amount of work, or even negotiate about the deadline extension.
Besides, the help can be in the form of emotional support. Your teammates share the same environment, duties, and stress triggers, so they may lend you an ear or give some tips on how to manage stress.
#4 Good or bad: take into account both
As a support manager, you should have the determination to deal with (usually) frequent stress attacks. Every day can’t be a piece of cake, as well as the pressure can’t be permanent. The point is in distinguishing your wins and losses. After analyzing the terms that led you triumphs or bad moments, you can see the future perspective in each interaction and route them to success.
No mountain is ever insurmountable, and so every stressful situation can be dealt by a professional support manager. Remember about healthy lifestyle, physical activities, and don’t take customers frustration personally.