Dealing with Stress
For many individuals, joining the enterprise culture has entailed a substantial personal cost: stress. The word 'stress' has found as firm a place in our modern lexicon as 'fast food', 'mobiles' and 'CDs'. 'It's a high stress job', people often say, awarding an odd sort of prestige to an occupation. But for people whose ability to cope with day-today matters is at crisis point, the concept of stress is not a matter of bravado. For them, stress can be translated as pain.
Step one: Spot the symptoms
It's important to be able to distinguish between pressure and stress. Pressure is motivating, stimulating, and energising. But when pressure exceeds our ability to cope, stress is produced. Continued high levels of stress can, at worst, result in illness, depression, or even nervous breakdown. However, there are a number of signals that help you detect when your levels of stress are bordering on dangerous. Take a good look at your well-being. If you experience any number of the following behavioural and physical symptoms on a frequent or near-constant basis, it might be time to start looking for causes and to reassess your priorities. These symptoms may be your body's way of telling you that you have crossed over the dividing line between healthy pressure and harmful stress.
Step two: Identify the sources of stress at work
Once you've admitted that you're not coping with the everyday pressures of work, the next step in the process is to identify the source(s) of the stress in the workplace. Once this is done, you can draw up a plan of action to minimise or eliminate the excess pressure or damaging source of stress. Make a note of problem areas. The table below identifies some possible daily hassles that trouble people at work. There are, of course, more significant problem areas as well, such as coping with redundancy, dealing with a bullying boss, or trying to cope with a dysfunctional corporate culture (one that demands excessive working hours or employs an autocratic management style).
Step three: Manage the daily hassles
Of all the daily hassles experienced by managers, one of the most stressful is poor time management. Time wasters fall into four categories, requiring different solutions.
The mananas: People who fall into this category cause themselves problems because they procrastinate, preferring to 'think' about work rather than 'do' it. Procrastination often stems from boredom, a lack of confidence, or reluctance to seek clarification.
The poor delegators: People who fall into this category waste a considerable amount of their time doing work that could easily and more effectively have been done by somebody else.
The disorganised: People who fall into this category are instantly recognisable by the mounds of paper that form barricades around their desks. Disorganised individuals frequently miss or are late for appointments. These people frequently think their problems are due to work overload rather than their own poor organisational skills.
The mushrooms: People who fall into this category are usually unclear about the purpose and objectives of what they are required to do. They constantly speculate and inwardly question what they should do rather than do it. They lack assertiveness and communication skills.