What do you do for families when you're ready to demand a lot from employees? Are families even a part of your plan? Experience shows that stress levels go up when people are concerned about other family members.

The military has years of experience in dealing with the stress of long-term training and deployment to combat. These same principles can work for you in your business.

As soldiers prepared for war in Iraq, for example, conscientious efforts were made to balance stress control with combat readiness. None of the leaders had to create a positive stress environment to maximize preparation, but the officers and key sergeants knew they had to control the mounting stress to minimize the negative reactions among those awaiting deployment.

To help control stress, soldiers were informed of their combat mission and how long they might expect to be away from home, what their working and living conditions would be like, and details about the enemy.

Families were informed of what could be expected at home and in Iraq. Additional medical care was provided to all family members to take care of lingering problems.

Legal assistance was provided to inform everyone about wills, powers of attorney, and other matters that could be distracting to soldiers and their families after deployment.

Financial counseling was made available for anyone who needed to open or close bank accounts or get additional names on signature cards.

Whenever possible, soldiers were given additional time off to be with their families. Family counseling was provided to prepare everyone for the soldier's departure, their absence, and their eventual return.

Chaplains made every effort to prepare and encourage those who needed spiritual direction.

Some people cope well with all of these stressors and some don't. Many see the circumstances as difficult and inconvenient, but others who are just as dedicated become overwhelmed and see the situation as impossible.

Therefore, anticipating reactions to stress is important. If stress is prevented or minimized, soldiers enter into situations with a better attitude that is geared more for success.

You probably don't need to do all of this every time you expect employees to be away for lengthy periods, but you can adapt the principals to your particular situation. Some things you might do are:

* Include family members in a general information session about your company and what will be accomplished by the employees' travel
* Get professional advice for employees and families regarding special financial situations
* Establish a specific contact person who can assist family members during the employee's absence
* Outline the schedule of expected return for visits or completion of the job

Be sure to ask employees and family members about what would help them in completion of the job or for assistance to their families.

Author's Bio: 

Dale Collie - Author and Speaker - US Army Ranger, professor
at West Point, Fortune 500 executive, CEO and business
owner has been named by Fast Company as one of America's
Top 50 innovative leaders. His book "Winning under Fire" (McGraw-
Hill) is available in English, Chinese, and Russian editions www.CourageBuilders.com

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