10 October 2019 – World Mental Health Day
Strong leaders will lead strong teams, and this is about more than meeting deliverables and increasing the business’s ROI. Good mental health in the workplace can be impacted by good leadership and management. Having the support of line managers can do a lot for an employee’s self-esteem as well as their levels of comfort to fully explore their roles.
Employees who already suffer from mental health issues will find it increasingly difficult to cope in a workplace that doesn’t support them from a variety of angles. However, many people feel empowered to do their best if they are supported by a strong and compassionate line manager. Factors that contribute positively to an employee’s mental wellbeing include:
- Being respected
- Being able to respect colleagues and managers
- Being supported and valued, regardless of mental health issues
- Having a clear line of sight towards roles and responsibilities
- Having consistency in treatment and organisation
- Having the ability and space to speak their minds
- Having autonomy to conduct responsibilities within their roles without being micro-managed
Having people in positions of management to help encourage employees and diffuse negative situations is of key importance, but how does a business go about ensuring this? Managers also need support and training. They need to know that there is a chain of upward communication that will support them and help them make relevant decisions for the betterment of their team. They also need to be motivated and inspired by strong, forward-thinking and supportive leaders. They too will need the support of their superiors from time to time.
Attributes Of A Supportive Manager
A supportive manager needs to be many things to a person who battles with mental illness. He or she needs to be available to listen, ready to guide, firm enough to instruct when necessary, strong enough to lead by example, observant enough to see when someone is battling, and supportive at all times. Some of the key attributes that contribute to a leader of this magnitude include:
- Being responsible, respectful and acting with integrity: a manager is respected for being calm and acting with integrity. This allows employees to feel relaxed as though everything within their department is under control. Being considerate to all team members goes a long way towards showing that each person matters.
- Managing current and future work and communicating this effectively: being proactive in the management of work will prevent bottlenecks or employees becoming overloaded, which leads to heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Any problems that arise should be dealt with promptly to prevent them becoming a source of worry for employees.
- Managing individual employees as part of the overarching team: a supportive manager will be easy to talk to, even if the person is bringing mental issues to light. The manager should be able to listen attentively and without judgment. He or she should have an in-depth understanding of each person who reports to him or her.
- Diffusing difficult situation with care and grace: a good manager will be able to effectively manage conflict, without stirring up further conflict. He or she will take responsibility for solving problems and will seek guidance from superiors where necessary.