How Your Stress Tolerance Affects Your Team’s Ability To Adapt To Change

“It’s our relationship with stress, how we interpret and respond to it, that truly matters.”
Adam Markel

Your ability to handle stress is more than a personal value; it’s a beacon guiding your team through the ebb and flow of change that inevitably and constantly affects businesses of all sizes. Your ability to tolerate stress (or inability as the case may be) affects your team, your results and your bottom line. Stress tolerance is deeply intertwined with resilience and growth mindset, both of which are cornerstones of managing change.

Woman meditating on her desk in an article on stress tolerance by Adam Markel

As business owners and leaders, times of turbulence are not uncommon. Having a solid grasp on stress tolerance shapes how you perceive challenges and handle setbacks. Managing stress well ultimately leads to greater growth, profitability and contribution.

So how do you measure up when it comes to managing your daily stress?

Are you cool as a cucumber or fiery as the sun?

Do you handle setbacks with flexibility and intelligent problem solving or do you fall into black and white thinking?

Does your mind open easily to possibilities or do you experience fear or “dooms-day” scenarios?

Does stress cause you to ask questions and get curious or do you fall back on old habits and “standard” ways of doing things?

If you answered with a nod towards a fixed mindset and less hope for the future, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, “… adults in the United States rate their average stress level at 5 out of 10, and 43% say their stress keeps piling up.”

In truth, if your stress is growing, you need a different approach. You can’t solve your stress with the same approach you took in the past. What I have seen work for companies from Thermofisher Scientific and Mars Wrigley can be found in the data and research around stress tolerance and resilience.

What Is Stress Tolerance?

Stress tolerance refers to an individual’s ability to withstand stress without becoming overwhelmed. It involves managing and navigating through stressful situations effectively, maintaining while also performing under pressure, and bouncing back from setbacks with resilience. This capacity is crucial in leadership as it directly influences decision-making, team morale, and overall workplace atmosphere during times of change or challenge.

Is This the Same as “Grit?”

While stress tolerance and grit may seem similar, they focus on different aspects of resilience and perseverance. Grit refers to passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term goals, regardless of setbacks or failures. It’s the unwavering commitment to a long-term objective.

On the other hand, stress tolerance is more about coping with and managing immediate stressors without letting them derail your current state of mental well-being or hinder your ability to perform tasks at hand. Both are vital in navigating the ups and downs of both personal and professional life, yet they cater to different dimensions of resilience.

Why Do You & Your Team Need To Be Stress Tolerant?

Why does stress tolerance matter so much for you and your team? Imagine steering a ship through a storm; stress tolerance is what keeps you and your crew sailing forward, not just surviving the waves but using them to gain momentum. In the workplace, this translates to tackling challenges head-on, turning potential stress into a catalyst for innovation and progress.

For leaders, exhibiting stress tolerance isn’t just about keeping your cool; it’s about setting a precedent. It shows your team that challenges are surmountable and that adaptability in the face of stress is not just possible but expected.

This mindset fosters a resilient team culture, one where each member is empowered to navigate their stressors effectively, contribute to problem-solving, and ultimately, drive the team towards achieving its goals. In essence, a stress-tolerant team isn’t bogged down by change; they’re energized by it, ready to pivot and bounce forward with every curve-ball thrown their way.

What Is The Organizational Impact If You Can’t Handle Stress?

When stress gets the upper hand, the ripple effects can be profound and far-reaching across an organization. Imagine a domino effect where one piece’s fall sets off a chain reaction; similarly, an inability to manage stress can cascade through various layers of the business. Communication falters, decision-making gets clouded, and what was once a collaborative, dynamic team might start showing cracks. Morale dips as the team struggles to find solid footing, and creativity—often the first casualty in a stressed environment—takes a backseat.

Moreover, the physical and mental well-being of employees can suffer, leading to increased absenteeism, turnover, and a decline in overall productivity. This not only impacts the immediate team dynamics but can also tarnish the organization’s reputation, affecting client trust and future talent acquisition. In short, mastering stress isn’t just a personal skill; it’s a critical organizational asset. Without it, navigating the seas of change becomes a perilous endeavor, with every wave threatening to tip the balance.

How Does This Affect Dealing With Workplace Change?

In the throes of workplace change, the ability—or inability—to manage stress can significantly dictate the trajectory of transition. Stress, when not handled well, can morph into a formidable barrier, making even minor changes seem insurmountable.

Teams that struggle with stress tend to view change through a lens of fear and uncertainty rather than as an opportunity for growth and improvement. This perception shift can stall innovation, hinder adaptation, and dampen the enthusiasm needed to drive forward.

On the flip side, teams proficient in stress management approach change with a proactive mindset. They’re more likely to embrace new challenges, seek solutions, and view disruptions as chances to learn and evolve.

This resilience not only smooths the path of transition but also cultivates a culture of agility—where the team is not just ready for change but excited by the possibilities it brings. Essentially, how stress is managed can either be a stumbling block or a stepping stone in dealing with workplace change, significantly impacting the organization’s ability to grow and stay competitive.

Can You Build Your Resilience To Stress?

Building resilience to stress is within reach for every leader, and it’s a critical component of effective leadership. Think of resilience as a skill set that, with intention and practice, can be honed and strengthened over time. The foundation of this development is self-awareness—understanding your stress triggers and responses, and identifying strategies that help you navigate stress more effectively.

Embracing a growth mindset is essential. View each challenge not as a setback but as an opportunity to learn, grow, and emerge stronger. Leadership involves setting the tone; your approach to stress and change significantly influences your team’s perspective and resilience.

Incorporating practices such as mindfulness, maintaining physical health, and ensuring a balance between professional and personal life can dramatically improve your ability to handle stress. Moreover, seeking resources and opportunities for personal development, such as resilience training or stress management workshops, can equip you with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of leadership in today’s fast-paced environment.

Can A Team Build Their Resilience To Stress?

Yes, a team can absolutely build their resilience to stress. This process, akin to forging steel through fire, involves both individual and collective commitment to growth, understanding, and support. Building team resilience is about more than just surviving adversity; it’s about learning to adapt and thrive together, drawing strength from diversity and unity.

The journey starts with fostering a culture of open communication and psychological safety, where team members feel valued and heard. Encouraging dialogue about stress and its effects demystifies personal experiences, making it easier for individuals to share strategies and support each other.

Leaders play a crucial role in modeling resilient behaviors—demonstrating how to manage stress constructively, maintaining a positive outlook, and showing empathy. Training and resources tailored to developing coping mechanisms further equip the team to handle challenges effectively.

Implementing regular team-building activities can also enhance cohesion and trust, critical components of a resilient team. These initiatives create chances for team members to forge stronger bonds, gain insights into one another’s capabilities and areas for growth, and establish a foundation of mutual support.

Finally, setting clear, achievable goals and celebrating milestones, no matter how small, can boost morale and motivation, reinforcing the team’s capacity to overcome obstacles together.

How To Build Stress Tolerance As A Team?

Building stress tolerance as a team involves fostering a supportive environment where open communication about stress is encouraged, and resilience is actively practiced and valued. It requires collective efforts in identifying stressors, sharing coping strategies, and implementing practical tools for stress management. By working together and supporting one another, teams can transform stress into an opportunity for growth, innovation, and strengthened bonds.

  1. Lead by Example: Demonstrate the behaviors you wish to see in your team. When leaders manage stress with grace and openly employ resilience strategies, it not only sets a powerful example but also creates a culture where stress management is valued and emulated.
  2. Foster Open Communication: Create channels for open dialogue about stress and its effects. Encourage team members to share their experiences and strategies for coping with stress. This openness helps to normalize conversations about stress and resilience, making it easier for the team to support one another.
  3. Implement Stress Management Training: Invest in training sessions focused on building stress resilience skills, such as mindfulness, time management, or emotional intelligence. These sessions equip your team with practical tools and techniques to manage stress effectively, both individually and as a group.
  4. Cultivate a Supportive Environment: Promote a team culture where members feel comfortable seeking help and offering support to one another. A supportive environment enhances the collective ability to navigate stressful situations and fosters a sense of belonging and mutual trust.
  5. Set Realistic Goals: Help your team set achievable goals and recognize the importance of celebrating successes, no matter how small. Acknowledging accomplishments reinforces positive outcomes of managing stress well and motivates the team to continue building their resilience.
  6. Encourage Work-Life Harmony: Emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and encourage practices that support a healthy separation between work and personal life. Respecting boundaries and promoting activities that recharge and rejuvenate are key to preventing burnout and maintaining team resilience.

Getting Your Team to “Buy-In”

Highlight the Benefits

Begin by clearly articulating the advantages of increased stress tolerance, such as improved performance, healthier work-life balance, and a more positive work environment. Emphasize how these benefits extend beyond the workplace, enhancing overall quality of life.

Create a Culture of Transparency

Foster an atmosphere where discussions about stress and its impacts are not just allowed but encouraged. Share your own experiences with managing stress to demonstrate that it’s a universal challenge, not a sign of weakness.

Involve Everyone in the Process

Make building stress tolerance a collaborative goal. Involve the team in identifying stressors and developing coping strategies, giving everyone a voice and a sense of ownership over the solutions.

Provide Resources and Support

Equip your team with the tools they need to manage stress effectively. This might include workshops, access to counseling services, or creating dedicated spaces for relaxation and mindfulness practices.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Together with your team, establish clear objectives for what you aim to achieve in building stress tolerance. Break these down into actionable steps and celebrate milestones to maintain momentum and motivation.

Lead by Example

Demonstrate your commitment to managing stress in a healthy way. Your behavior sets the tone for the team, showing that prioritizing well-being is both valued and expected.

Encourage Peer Support

Promote a team environment where members feel comfortable reaching out for support and offering assistance to their colleagues. Peer support can be a powerful motivator and reinforces the collective effort toward building resilience.

By ensuring your team’s “buy-in” through these strategies, you lay the groundwork for a unified approach to enhancing stress tolerance. This collective commitment not only strengthens the team’s resilience but also fosters a supportive and empowering workplace culture.

How We Can Help Your Organization

Embracing resilience and navigating change isn’t just about survival—it’s about thriving and leveraging every challenge as a stepping stone towards innovation and success. As a stress management and resilience keynote speaker, I can help you transform the chronic stress your team is under into a powerful force for growth.

Are you ready to chart a course through change with confidence and agility?

Is your team prepared to transform adversity into advantage?

Find out how resilient you are by taking my complimentary resilience assessment.

And if you’re ready to set your team on the path to becoming truly resilient and stress tolerant, connect with us now. My keynote talks will help lay the groundwork for leading your team into an abundant and successful future.

Reach out to our team to set up a private consultation today.