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7 Steps to managing stress at work

24 Nov 2017

Con Lam

The money, the perks and rewards will always draw people into a career in sales and there is no doubt that a career in sales remains a highly attractive option for many. Brightwater's marketing and sales consultant Con Lam takes a step back to look at what a sales job is really like under the glossy facade we see from the outside and gives 7 steps to managing the stress and anxiety that is associated with a job in sales.

When I’m asked to describe a great sales person, there are certain qualities that spring to mind.  You might think of top sales people as driven, confident, outgoing characters, assertive in how they interact with their clients and focused on achieving their goals.  Or you might think about the need to be structured and also conscientious in how they go about their business.  For me, without question you would have to include resilience as a key trait for anyone planning to be successful career in sales, alongside a relentless positivity and sense of optimism.  Taken collectively, it paints quite the image of the motivated go-getter capable of taking on the world!

Based on the volume of sales roles currently being recruited and the constant stream of applicants keen to break into the field, there is no doubt that a career in sales remains a highly attractive option for many.  The money, the perks and rewards, the nights out, the trips away and the buzz of a sales office in full flow will always draw people to think about sales as a career choice.

With probably the highest profile Mental Health week ever fresh in the memory and the ongoing conversation about mental health in the workplace, it is interesting to take a step back and consider what this can really be like under the glossy façade we see on the outside.  For all the perks and rewards, there are few careers where success and failure is quite as black and white and also so easily recognised externally.  Being driven is one thing, but turning up to work with maximum motivation day after day is tough for anyone.  Staying positive when you miss out on a big sale, or when your figures have dipped for a couple of months and the pressure starts to really come on from above, is easier said than done and individuals have to be resilient for a reason.  Let’s also not forget that for all the benefits of having the ability to make big bonus numbers, when times aren’t so good an individual’s earnings can fluctuate massively which can be tough to deal with when you have mouths to feed at home.  Added to this, many salespeople spend a lot of their time away on the road or at the very least working late in the office.  It’s not surprising that Health Magazine lists the Sales profession as one of the top 10 career paths for rates of depression which may not always be apparent at face value.

Whilst job-related stress and anxiety continues to be an issue, it’s encouraging to see the change in attitudes towards the topic right across the board and the increase in advice and support available to those that need it.  We’ve borrowed some of the American Psychological Association’s latest advice and included this below.  We hope you find it helpful.

1. Track your stressors

Keeping track of the situations and circumstances (and people) that cause your anxiety levels to rise is a great place to start.  Once you know where the issues are coming from it becomes much easier to tackle.

2. Develop healthy responses

Binging on food, booze or drugs may offer short term relief but it’s unlikely to offer a longer term solution to the problem.  More effective choices like exercise, be that intense or simply getting out and walking, and even getting to bed earlier will give more sustainable relief.

3. Establish boundaries

In today's digital world, it's easy to feel pressure 24 hours a day. As much as this will be a foreign concept to many (including myself), finding a way to switch off and keep work at work can be crucial to avoiding burnout.  That may mean not checking emails over the weekend or turning off the work phone after hours but finding an ability to remove yourself from work even briefly gives the pressure an opportunity to release.

4. Take time to recharge

Linked to the above point, allowing yourself to work to the point of burning out will only serve to diminish your performance and make any problem worse. To avoid this, it’s important to recover your optimum levels by “switching off” from work and having some time when you are not engaging in work-related activities or thinking about work. That's why it's critical that you disconnect from time to time, use your annual leave, get engaged in activities outside of work that give you energy and leave you feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at your best.

5. Learn how to relax

Some people will use techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness to help melt away stress. For others, it’s just about connecting with friends or important people in your life, or even flicking on Netflix and switching off completely.  Whatever you find that works, don’t be shy about making use of it.

6. Talk to your supervisor

This can be a tough one.  There is a school of thought that in business, when it comes to it, nobody really cares about anything beyond the bottom line.  Even if that were true, healthy employees are typically more productive, so your boss has an incentive to create a work environment that promotes employee well-being. If you have a supervisor that you trust, start by having a conversation about where you’re at, not to complain but to work collaboratively to find practical steps you can take to better manage your workload and stressors.

7. Get some support

Accepting help from trusted friends and family members can improve your ability to manage stress. Going it alone may seem admirable but as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.  Asking for help and letting people in is seen increasingly as a sign of strength, if you find yourself having a more difficult time don’t neglect taking the time to talk.

Con Lam  is a Sales and Marketing consultant here at Brightwater. For further information and a confidential discussion about your career please contact Con on 02890325325 or email C.Lam@brightwaterni.com