Some days it’s just a whole lot of worrying. Well, this year, we seem to have a whole lot of them.

Yet, you want to keep your employees motivated, right?

So you put on your happy face. Everything’s OK. Then you go yell at the cat.

Actually, yelling at the cat is kind of therapeutic, in the same way as yelling at a tree.

Here’s the problem: Your team knows something’s up. They can see it in your eyes. Or the terseness of your emails.

Humans are amazing pattern-matching machines. Not always accurate, mind you; that’s why we see a face in the moon or the pattern on the ceiling.

So what do you do when you know someone’s stressed out but tells you everything’s just fine? Well, if it’s your boss, you assume the worst. Your job’s on the line. Performance is unacceptable. The company’s going to die.

So as that boss, your job is to convey an appropriate amount of concern, but not too much. Starting with the truth.

Maybe you’re concerned about your elderly relative who has fallen ill. You can say that it’s a family issue you’re concerned with, not with peoples’ performance.

Maybe you’re worried about the impact of new business restrictions. You can say that you’re working on how to deliver business results within those new constraints, and you’ll ask for help when it might be useful.

Maybe you’re troubled by losing some key employees. You can say that there’s been some significant impact from their departure, and trying to adjust plans accordingly and maybe hire a replacement.

Here’s what I’m doing here:

  • State in general terms what you’re concerned about. By implication, the team may reduce their worry about other things which aren’t actually that bad.
  • Give an indication that you’re working on it in the appropriate way. That might be by directing peoples’ work, or high level conversations – but things which are appropriate to your role.
  • Convey some reassurance that the employees will be involved or advised as appropriate. They’ll be more patient waiting for things to evolve.

The philosophy here is very simple: What would give YOU a little more peace of mind if you knew your boss was stressed out?

It takes just a little thought and perspective.