I took on my first “boss” role a couple of years ago while overseeing a tiny cadre of junior-level editors at a national women’s magazine. The media industry isn’t exactly known for having easy managers—ever read The Devil Wears Prada?—and I hadn’t had any formal management training in my 10 years in the business.
Psychologists who study management talk about job stress a lot because of all the ways it can affect a company: medical costs, sick days, morale and turnover. Time after time, researchers find that one of the most consistent ways to reduce stress among workers is to offer them a little more autonomy—a sense of control over their own job. Not everyone can set their own hours or cherry-pick duties, but you can offer choice to employees in many other ways, says Edward Deci, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester who has done some of the seminal research on self-determination at work.
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