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Today's workplace has changed. Employees are much more desirous of positive, nurturing, and socially connected environments. This is especially true of younger workers, who also appreciate supervisors who are willing to be more vulnerable and open about their feelings with them. Given these new expectations and to help retain employees longer, offering guidance on coping with work stress is appropriate for supervisors. This can include, for example, counseling employees about taking risks, managing fear and work stress, coping with mistakes, not regretting missed opportunities, and overcoming fear of taking chances, as well as supervisors sharing information about their personal failures and successes. These things help employees build "emotional resilience" to better cope with errors, mistakes, work crises, coworker conflicts, disappointments, missed promotions, upsetting performance reviews, and more. All organizations want lower turnover, and helping employees build emotional resilience clearly has a business rationale. (NOTE: It is important to distinguish between the examples above from acute issues, which would dictate a referral to PAS.)

Your fears may be normal in the face of a rapid rise in your career. Many people with fears similar to yours have discovered nothing came of them despite the anxiety they often felt. The collection of symptoms you describe is sometimes called "impostor syndrome." Don't panic. Talk to PAS, and allow professionals there to guide you in gaining relief. Be prepared to share more about your concerns, career path, supervisor relationship, and specific fears. Impostor syndrome is an internal sense of fear, not based on reality. The impostor syndrome can be exacerbated by a difficult relationship with the boss or peers, or by a true shortage of skills, but rarely by the inability to perform the job or rapidly learn it.

Giving feedback to employees is not about delivering the good with the bad and hoping for the best. Your attitude and approach are critical. Do you show annoyance over the shortcomings of your employee's work, or do you deliver feedback with judgment-free specificity? The latter approach works better because valuable employees are hard enough on themselves. More importantly, give feedback with the intention of motivating employees. If an employee is not energized following a feedback interview, you have taken a step backward in that relationship. Whenever possible, use feedback meetings to teach new skills. Develop good working relationships with your employees and discuss how you will give feedback to them. Let them know that the purpose of feedback is to help them excel, not to find fault or shake their confidence. Use these guidelines the next time you give feedback. You will enjoy giving feedback more often, and you'll do it more effectively.

There is a difference between employees expressing humor within a psychologically safe workplace and the supervisor over-employing humor as a way to interact and manage employees. Overuse of humor can heighten employee vulnerability and make supervisors less approachable. Ironically, some humor may contribute to an intimidating and offensive work environment. Overused, humor can also send a message that there is nothing very serious about what we do here-that mistakes and problems are not to be taken seriously. This results in the loss of a healthy sense of urgency and leads to diminished performance by employees. This dynamic can prompt employees to focus on personal matters rather than workplace productivity; indeed, research has shown this to be the case. However, humor is a natural human behavior. It is not something that has to be deliberately learned or practiced. Naturally occurring, it can be an indicator of a positive work climate where employees are able to be happy, healthy, and productive.

Organizational psychologist Glenn D. Rolfsen, Ph.D., discovered through working with more than 200 companies that gossip and backbiting are indeed stubborn problems, but eliminating these problems will increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and improve morale. The best tactic he discovered was to change behavior associated with gossip, which helped employees acquire new habits of personal awareness to change the behavior. He did three things that produced the result he wanted. First, he educated employees about gossip's toxic effects. Then, he got everyone to sign a commitment to eliminating it. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he discovered a way to keep that goal in front of everyone effectively to achieve "top of mind awareness." It worked. See his TEDx presentation on this achievement and consider what may fit with your situation. Ask PAS to team with you on projects to improve morale and develop a positive workplace.

In the past, the same argument was used to minimize the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace. Today, sexual harassment is illegal. Research has now documented its true cost. Bullying in the workplace is rapidly receiving the same level of recognition, also supported by research. See this citation on abusive supervision. Do you ridicule employees? Have you put employees down in front of others? Have you accused them of incompetence, kept them away from “the good assignments,” not given them credit for their work, yelled at them, or invaded their privacy by asking probing personal questions? Many of these behaviors were once considered natural elements of the traditional workplace, but not today. Talk to PAS about making changes. Most employees who complain to supervisors about bullying say they do not see substantive changes from their tormentors. This implies that changing these behaviors can be tough. Still, you could remain at risk for employment or legal claims if your tactics don’t shift.