Being a good boss isn't easy, but it may help to know that most people want to follow an effective leader. If your job involves supervising others, your actions could be the reason your employees aren't and your efforts are failing. Workplace stress caused by poor management is a common problem that leads to a number of emotional and health issues and is just plain bad for business, according to Stuart Sidle, PhD, an industrial-organizational psychologist who is chairman of the psychology department and director of the industrial/organizational psychology program at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.

How Poor Management Causes Workplace Stress
Sidle offers five ways that you could be causing on-the-job stress, along with some suggestions for avoiding it:

1. Not Hiring Employees Who are Capable of Doing the Job. When an employee is put into a capacity that's way above her ability and experience level, it can set her up for failure and be a serious cause for workplace stress. The situation can also cause on-the-job stress for everyone else who is dependent on that employee's job performance. Sidestep the problem by investing the necessary time up front to carefully screen job applicants and find the best fit for your jobs.

2. Not Establishing Clear Expectations or Priorities. If your employees don't know what's expected of them, they may be working hard yet falling short of specific goals. If you have not clearly stated your priorities, you could be making it difficult for employees to efficiently manage multiple tasks. The best way to avoid this problem is by defining your key expectations and communicating how and when you would like them executed.

3. Allowing Your Own Stress to Affect Your Employees. When your employees see you overwhelmed by difficult problems, they may be less optimistic about the workplace, which can lead to poor morale. The best way to take control of the situation is by setting an example of how you expect your employees to act when the going gets tough. Don't let workplace stress get the best of you. You can also serve as a role model by demonstrating good stress management techniques such as incorporating regular exercise and hobbies in your life, and balancing work and family well.

4. Not Preparing Employees for Difficult Situations. In even the best run workplace, there will be times when things don't go as expected. But if your employees aren't prepared for the worst, they may not know how to regroup when things do go wrong. To avoid this problem, make an effort to reach out to employees and trouble-shoot various scenarios and solutions. Also try to foster an environment where co-workers help and support each other when things get tough so everyone will pull together as a team to get the job done.

5. Not Communicating Change Effectively. Change is essential to any business, but all too often, employees are left in the dark when it comes to big decisions. If you don't explain the rational behind any current or proposed changes, you could be increasing your employees' frustration and on-the-job stress by expecting them to blindly follow along without having all of the necessary information. Instead, make it a point to clearly explain the benefits of any changes or new rules right at the beginning and show that you endorse the decision so your employees can follow your good example.

Stuart Sidle, PhD, reviewed this article.

American Psychological Association (APA). "Resources for Employers." N.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2013.

Stuart D. Sidle, PhD, Chair, Department of Psychology, University of New Haven.
Email interview 7 Feb. 2013.