We can all sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and for fleet managers this can be doubly true. You’re managing not just your own work schedule but one for tens, hundreds and sometimes, thousands of people. Not everything that needs to be dealt with happens between nine and five and not every problem can be fixed. But somehow, you have to find a way.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes stress officially as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. It also points out that stress can cause heart disease, headaches, stomach problems, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression and lead to drug and alcohol dependency.
Everyone’s ‘excessive pressure’ is different but we know that more technology and demands from the business means that fleet managers are expected to juggle a whole range of responsibilities. In a 24/7 world it can sometimes feel like we never leave work.
Managing stress doesn’t mean making deadlines disappear. Getting on top of stress means making sure they don’t become overwhelming. Perhaps it’s about setting standards in your workplace, improving the lines of communication, managing expectations from drivers and management and even giving yourself a talking-to once in a while. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.
Too many demands on your time
You can’t be everywhere at once. Look at how you’re dividing up your time and what you’re being asked to do. Are you being asked to do things that aren’t really your job? Perhaps you’re taking on some tasks because it’s faster than getting someone else to do it. Delegation is a skill and you shouldn’t feel guilty about spreading the load.
Prioritise your time. If you are getting pressure from other departments or from line management, give a good reason why some jobs will be better left until later or done by someone else. You may well have become the ‘go to’ person in everyone’s minds because you’re just too damn good!
Take time to train. It can seem impossible when your day job pushes you into overtime just trying to get the usual tasks done but investing time in training someone else frees you up in the long run.
Talk. Let your manager know you are feeling stressed and help them understand your situation so they can something about it. If your work culture doesn’t seem to support this, lead by example. Show by supporting your own team through stress that the business will benefit if it works on reducing stress. Stress is also proven to be lower in people who are able to help others. But don’t take on extra burdens.
Take your time. It can seem like there is never a right time but you do no-one any favours in the long run by not taking holiday or time off when you’re sick. Plan for it where you can but don’t be a slave to your phone. If the stress of ignoring your work on holiday is worse than being at work, set aside one half an hour every couple of days where you will be contactable and let everyone know that is that.
Exercise. Fresh air and exercise are proven mood lifters as well as good for physical health. You don’t need an on-site gym or expensive equipment. Walk round the outside of the building during lunch, be active while at home. No-one’s asking you to drop and do twenty. A stroll could do the trick.
Eat well. It can seem hard to squeeze in healthy eating but your body needs the right fuel too. Preparing your own food to take to work may require a little thought and organisation at the beginning. But with a few tools like a recipe book aimed at packed lunches and a good selection of boxes and pots, you can get into the good mood food habit easily.