An introduction to the CUSP™ stress prevention framework for managers:
A good working climate is one where stress is largely prevented. With this in mind, and in the next 3 mins I would like to provide a brief overview of a critically important In Equilibrium framework called the CUSP™.
The CUSP™ can be used both to prevent stress and to reduce the risks to an individual’s health when stress has occurred. The CUSP™ really is a very useable model and is based on what we know from thousands of psychological studies and from experience.
We know that stressful situations, especially those at work, have particular characteristics. Stressful situations tend to be where individuals feel that they have very little control over what is happening. They are often high in uncertainty, and they tend to be situations where individuals feel unsupported or feel that they are receiving the wrong kind of support.
The way the CUSP™ works is very simple. The framework suggests that, as a manager, if you can do anything to boost someone’s sense of control, if you can reduce the level of uncertainty in the situation, or if you can offer support either directly or facilitated from elsewhere, then that will tend to reduce the level of the pressure impacting on stress risk.
- the C stands for Control
- the U for Uncertainty
- the S for Support
- and the P for Pressure
Enabling control is not about abdicating managerial responsibility. What it is about is encouraging people to take responsibility for their own day to day performance. Through, for example, effective delegation, applying flexibility, encouraging assertive communication, and consultation within workload.
The key to reducing uncertainty is timely and effective face-to-face communication, with some other elements to also consider. For example, management and team openness, and management approachability. As managers, you are in the unique position to provide both social and practical support to your staff.
Directly, the message is to always make time for one-to-ones with your staff. Team meetings, listening carefully to comments and difficulties, and always allowing for 2-way communication. This is your team, you know them best, you’re in the best place to prevent stress risk and also to pick up problems as they occur. And the CUSP™ in these latter situations allows a manager to look at practical options in a very structured way, for placement within a consulted and agreed action plan.
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