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How to Overcome Stress and Attract Great Employees

Don't let day-to-day busyness get in the way of conscientious hiring.

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As a leader, you're constantly competing for talent. You want to hire and work with the best, and you deserve to work with a strong team. Unfortunately, stress prevents us from building and exercising our interpersonal skills. In extreme circumstances, there is a clear link between chronic stress and a greater incidence of psychiatric disorders. Stress has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It has even been shown to reduce the size of the brain. When we're stressed, our focus tends to move inward. We overlook or deprioritize the people around us, including top talent, and how we interact with them.

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So, here are four steps to reduce your stress and build a powerful talent pool. It's well worth the effort. When you build an all-star team, you boost your potential and reduce your stress, setting yourself up for success.

1. Always be on the lookout for talent.

Talent is all around you. You just need to keep your eyes peeled and your ears open, both inside and beyond your company walls. You have a lot of tools at your disposal. Events, social gatherings and conferences are great places to source talent. You can ask your colleagues, friends and peers for recommendations. Look beyond the resume and remember that top talent is much more than high IQ. You should look for candidates who have empathy and emotional intelligence, or EQ, which is one of the most powerful predictors of career success. Individuals with a high EQ are able to handle pressure well, understand and cooperate with others, give and receive feedback constructively and engage in more effective decision-making. Research has shown that 75 percent of managers and HR professionals are more likely to promote an employee with a high EQ and lower IQ than an individual with a high IQ and lower EQ. But perhaps more important, strong EQ skills can reduce stress. What more could you ask for in a candidate? You want to be surrounded by people with high EQ levels, and you deserve to be. It's important not to sell yourself short. And when you're stressed, you're be more likely to chase top candidates away because you won't be able to present your company in a favorable light. You're better than that. Finally, it's important to remember that the hiring and recruiting should be ongoing. When you keep in touch with talent and have a shortlist of people who might become potential candidates one day, you can further reduce your stress levels because it gives you a vetted pool of talent to draw from at any time.

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2. Adopt effective interview practices.

We all have a natural temptation to rely on our gut, especially when we're stressed and skipping steps in the selection process. Unfortunately, this leads to biased decisions. When vetting candidates, it's important to embrace effective interview practices and psychological profiles. You can start by finding a validated and consistent method for screening talent. Try to assess both role fit and culture fit. You don't have to do it on your own. Ask your HR business partner to share an example of a mutually agreed-upon top performer, take notes and make sure you understand desired competencies and how they relate to performance. Don't forget to evaluate what talent gaps you need to fill to realize short- and long-term business objectives. When you're confident you don't have gaps in your talent pool, you'll be able to minimize stress.

3. Develop leaders.

Your team members look up to you. One of your greatest powers is the potential to develop highly capable leaders who cultivate and motivate leaders themselves. This triggers a domino effect. Your team members benefit, their team members benefit and all their collective team members benefit. It's a powerful, virtuous cycle. You can start developing leaders today by showing a genuine interest in your direct reports's top performers. Make sure they are in the right role and are being challenged, engaged and supported. Identify at least one or two successors who can fill in as your replacement and generally surround yourself with high-performers. If some of them climb the ranks faster than you, give yourself a pat on the back; you've done a good job at attracting and retaining top talent. When you develop leaders, you build a powerful army that can propel your organization forward and help you lessen your stress.

Related: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

4. Motivate and mobilize.

As a leader, you have a lot of power. Your team members are counting on you to be an iron shield for them. Chances are high that some of your employees have lost motivation for their work, which one of the most common reactions to stress. The best leaders know instinctively how to engage and motivate their teams and remove barriers to motivation. It's important to make sure your team members have the resources they need to do their best work. Try to reward and compliment them for a job well done, help them develop new skills and challenge them by creating purposeful work. Lead by example and model desired behavior. High levels of stress can divert your attention from motivating and mobilizing your people. Motivation is self-perpetuating and builds on itself, allowing for greater outcomes, so make sure you take the time to address your stress levels before you mobilize.

Helen Keller once said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." By using the above four steps and focusing on improving your interpersonal skills, you can build strong teams, reduce stress and advance in your own career. Good luck!

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