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How managers can balance work priorities with the wellbeing of their team

The world that we live in brings challenges in our roles every day. Challenges to the work that we do and also to our lives outside of work. Heavy workloads, competing demands and priorities and difficult relationships at work can all lead to high stress levels.

When people feel stressed and aren’t able to find ways to support themselves they experience burnout.



According to CIPD reports, the biggest challenge for people when it comes to managing their mental health and coping with stress is their workload and the management style (or approach) of the managers and senior leaders around them.

How can managers balance work priorities with the wellbeing of their team?

There are strategies you can take, as a people manager, to balance those significant ‘competing’ priorities of how to get the work done and ensure that your team is healthy, and their wellbeing is supported.

We are going to explore two of those key strategies here.

Build the resilience and the personal effectiveness of the people in your teams.

Resilience is more than just bouncing back after tough times. It's also about being able to handle difficulties without getting knocked down in the first place. It's having the resourcefulness to deal with problems and the flexibility to adapt to different situations.

You can help build your team’s resilience by:

  1. Developing people’s tolerance to uncertainty and change by supporting them with tools that focus on what they can control and take ownership of.
  2. Helping people see things with a growth mindset (I can’t do this yet, rather than I can’t do this at all)
  3. Taking an evidence-based approach to understanding the challenges they are dealing with to avoid feeling overwhelmed or catastrophising. Looking for facts and anchors that can ground them in times when ‘they can’t see the wood for the trees’.
  4. Supporting them to build their personal effectiveness so they can use their time effectively and manage their energy levels.
  5. Encourage them to maintain healthy sleeping, eating and exercise habits and role model the right behaviour so you’re doing these things too.


We love the work of Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits for Highly Effective People. In his book, he provides practical tools for personal and professional growth that can benefit teams. He focuses on habits like taking initiative, setting clear goals, prioritising tasks wisely, collaborating effectively, and always striving to improve. These habits offer great guidelines for better communication, teamwork, and problem-solving within a team and help to develop that important resilience.




Your approach and management style as a people manager

We know that when priorities and workload are high, it is quite easy to go to a place of high challenge with the people we work with.  We start making unrealistic demands of the people in our team because we might be feeling the pressure ourselves. At these times our own stress response may mean that our ability to think strategically, have empathy and think long term is impaired.

However, what we see from working with thousands of managers, and what our research tells us is that bringing challenge and support together in our approach really helps us to work with our teams when there are high-priority tasks and demanding workloads. And helps us to ensure our team’s wellbeing is protected.

It is about:

  • Creating a space where people feel supported and able to share what’s going on and where they are in terms of their workload. Where they have the ability to think through their challenges supported by you, but with them firmly owning the responsibility for their tasks. Where by taking a coaching style people feel empowered and are resourceful.


  •  Being clear on expectations around the work that is needed to be done, timelines and what levels of quality and completeness are required. Delegate effectively to the right people in the right way. Provide clarity on when updates are needed and who needs to be involved or consulted.


Addressing the challenges of work-related stress and mental health requires a balanced approach from managers. By prioritising resilience-building and adopting a supportive and challenging management style, teams can navigate high workloads while maintaining wellbeing.

We recommend you have a look at our other resources on this subject such as our recent CAPE Conversation webinars on How to support people dealing with grief and loss and Menopause at work: What you really need to know. 

We also work with a number of charity partners which we can connect you with if you or one of your team are looking for more resources and support. 

CAPE Coaching & Development equip, empower, and enable brilliant people managers through development programmes, workshops and 1-2-1 coaching. 


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