You know that feeling when you’re waiting to hear from a date you were really excited about? Or, when you found the *perfect* gift for a friend and you can’t wait for them to open it already? That little nugget of anxiety also rears its head when you’re awaiting feedback from your manager — or you’re concerned about how you performed in your review.
Many employees report having nerves surrounding upper management and admit they strategize to never add any more stress to their boss’s plate. If you’re worried about being too much or doing too little, take these words of wisdom from executives who reveal exactly what makes them on edge in the workforce. You can avoid these triggers by, well, doing the opposite:
“Being territorial and petty.”
“I understand the human instinct to want to protect what’s yours and have insecurity about losing ground, or favor, or prestige. But as a manager, it makes me crazy when I expect everyone to be working as a team to advance the business. I am careful to be generous with credit and thanks so that people won’t feel this way, but it still happens. This is something I’m working on with my employees—because as a manager it’s really my job to try to eliminate these feelings.”
— Jeannie Ralston, co-founder and editor, NextTribe.
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“Being expected to always have the answers.”
“The main things that stress me out are trying to please everyone in the office and trying to always have the right answer when everyone looks to you for solutions. It comes with the territory, especially as an entrepreneur. You have to balance between being the boss, owning the company, calculating growth, managing resources and being responsible for your employees. You can’t always please everyone. As an entrepreneur, your business is always growing and changing and keeping up with the demands of that can be extremely challenging. I find myself constantly balancing and managing expectations to the best of my ability. It is imperative to have a positive environment in our office so it can be stressful sometimes to do what is necessary in order to meet the goals we have set out to achieve, especially since we run our business like a family.”
— Kenneth A. Baboun, managing partner of BGI Capital.
“Figuring out how to manage my time.”
“I still haven’t mastered not being stressed out when I get double or triple booked for meetings, and my calendar is jam-packed with requests from people asking for time I don’t have available. My go-to solution is usually pushing off all my busy work and emails until late at night, early morning or even during the weekend. This way I don’t have to stress about not giving everyone the attention they deserve. Your staff feels stressed when you feel stressed. As such, it’s important for me to continue to train myself on how to manage stressful situations. If I can do this, it helps my staff feel more inspired and positive about the company’s future.”
— Ric Kostick, founder and CEO of 100 Percent Pure.
“Hiring new roles.”
“Nothing is more exciting than when we commit to bringing a new person on the team to fill a new role. And then the realization sets in: you need to devote extra energy to define the role and recruit the perfect candidate, while simultaneously doing their job. It’s stressful balancing the short-term imperative to execute (that’s why you’ve decided to make a new hire!) and the long-term perspective that you just need to find the right person. There’s no way I’m going to be able to execute as well as I’d like. I have learned to accept that I won’t get to everything in the short-term, but I have to prioritize recruiting this person and getting them on board as soon as possible. This includes setting aside dedicated time each day to recruiting.”
— Jeremy Goldberg, co-founder and president of LeagueApps.
“A stressor for me is the constant connectivity and attention to devices. This is a huge problem in the workplace: a meeting full of people tethered to laptops is a sure sign the meeting is a bad use of everyone’s time. This problem, obviously, extends beyond the workplace to our families and friends. Every restaurant has tables full of folks looking down at their phones! Mindfulness and presence is such a game-changer both at work and at home.”
— Josh Platt, chief product officer of RetailMeNot.
“Not meeting deadlines.”
“Something that can be stressful for me is when different people I’m working with give inaccurate timelines and do not meet deadlines. I am constantly coordinating between the manufacturers, the warehouses and the fulfillment companies. If one entity is late on delivery, an entire process can be delayed and I am responsible for reworking these errors. When you’re operating on a global scale like our company, it adds an extra layer of pressure to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.”
— Aleezeh Khan, co-founder and head of operations for CTZN Cosmetics.
“Lack of integrity.”
“I have learned that faking positivity, especially as a leader, can even instill distrust. As CEO and Founder, there is a need to bring a positive, strategic vision that is truly authentic no matter what challenges the current business might be facing. While business results are key to the success of Mamma Chia, I am also focused on fostering a vibrant workplace that is filled with dynamic, empowered souls. One belief that drives both my personal and professional life is the idea that fulfillment comes from being of service to something greater than ourselves. I have found that the most practical and effective stress reliever is simply aligning with my soul throughout the day. In the midst of the daily hustle and bustle of growing a brand, I take the opportunity to consciously rest in my true nature. It takes practice and commitment to do this, but it is far more effective and powerful than waiting for the end of the day or weekend to de-stress.”
— Janie Hoffman, founder and CEO of Mamma Chia.
“Not having ‘me’ time to focus.”
“I travel quite a bit, so when I am in the office my calendar is filled with meetings and calls. I often feel like I am being pulled in many directions, but it’s important to have regular dialogue with key members of our team to stay on top of initiatives but more importantly because I want the team to always feel like they are getting the support that they need from me. Many days, the meetings are excessive that I don’t have time to even breathe between them, much less, take the time to prepare well or digest the meeting I left last. I recently started adding a ‘Me Time’ block to my calendar and I use that time to give focus to thinking, planning, and preparing. I now rarely will schedule a call or meeting during the ‘Me Time’ block, unless its something critical that needs immediate attention.”
— Shane Evans, founder and president of Massage Heights.
“Figuring out work and life balance.”
“While the work we do every day will take up a very meaningful part of our lives, we gain great sources of happiness from our families. I feel high stress to provide a healthy and happy life for my wife and kids, so that places added pressure that is not the fault of my colleagues or my company. I recognized early on that I owned this piece of my life and how I balanced my life was a critical happiness factor for me. Whether I was leading a very large franchise platform of 1,100 units and $1B+ in sales/year or I am leading an intense start-up, being more thoughtful helped me manage through the stress at work. One great practice to achieve the stress reduction and not bring it home with me was to transition. Transitioning before I get home on tough days is a great method. Before I get in my car for my short ride home, I walk for about fifteen minutes. I work on breathing, clarity of thought, organizing my mind for tomorrow and parking the work stuff so when I get home, I am 100 percent present for my kids and my wife.”
— Dave Crisalli, founder and CEO of My Prose.
“Slow rates of growth.”
“Company owners always want their company to grow faster than it does. When we fixate on a particular rate of growth and fail to reach it, that can feel like failure. Even worse, it can feel like the very life of the company is in jeopardy. This can be extremely stressful. I combat this by remembering that what I want isn’t necessarily what I need to be happy. That is, the company can do well even if it’s growth rate doesn’t meet my expectations and desires. We often feel we need to achieve a certain outcome exactly as we envision it to be happy and remain stress-free. But this type of delusional thinking only ossifies our thinking and adds to our stress. By allowing myself to recognize an outcome can be positive even if it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned and wanted, I can dramatically reduce my stress.”
— Dr. Alex Lickerman, MD, and author of The Ten Worlds: The New Psychology of Happiness and The Undefeated Mind.