Dealing with Stress in Your Organization
There are several characteristics that you might notice:
- The focus of the management in the organization is on perceived risk
- Short-term solutions that are narrowly targeted to a specific problem are preferred and long-term objectives are treated as less important
- Communication may suffer, lacking details
- Communication is often reactive, with attention focused on the most recent failures and on affixing blame
- Skills degenerate under stress and normally talented members of the organization do not perform at their best
- There is a higher expectation for compliance rather than discussion and collaboration
This group of response tendencies, developed in humans who faced potentially life-threatening dangers, can make it difficult to thrive in a profession that is already difficult to practice. It seems overwhelming when the organization also becomes a source of the problems rather than being a place to receive support.
If this were not complicated enough, in such an environment, you might share some of these same characteristics. This can make for unproductive conversations and increased animosity resulting in a negative spiral of rising stress reactions.
Fortunately, there are some things which can be quite productive in dealing with your organization.
- Identify and focus on the long term goals of the organization and the benefits of continuing to work productively toward those goals.
- Whenever you are in a dialogue with the management of the organization, consciously slow down your thoughts so that you are responding rather than reacting.
- Establish a working team atmosphere so that you are you are creating shared understandings (mental models) of your goals and the goals of the organization.
- Over communicate! You will find that there is a great capacity to misunderstand each other or to avoid areas of potential conflict.
- Gradually move from a risk prevention strategy to a growth oriented strategy.
In times like these, these are useful starting points to improve the function of your entire organization. It is helpful to remember that this is a long-term process. It takes all the patience and skill that you employ in your professional activities.
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