Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reduce Workplace Stress

So you want to reduce workplace stress, increase your job satisfaction, achieve greater productivity and, maybe, get promoted. These are great goals and something that we should all be proud to support. But what if none of this is working for you? What are the answers and how do you relieve the stress and get the sort of job you want?

If you are going to go to work, you should be happy. You will spend a lot of time at work, 2000 work hours per year for 40 years - 80,000 hours altogether. You do not want to join the 20 million American adults who have some form of mental disorder annually (includes depression, anxiety, phobias etc). you DO NOT want to be one of the 18.1 million adults who experience either dysthymia (mild, chronic depression) or a major depressive disorder. So what are some of the secrets for being happy and effective at work?

My number one solution is to know yourself. Being self-aware, understanding your skill set, knowing where you are good and where you are not so good all help you to fit in to the workplace culture and expectations. I have talked before about person-environment fit and I firmly believe that if people have a poor fit that they will be unhappy. Being unhappy for 40 hours a week leads to some nasty consequences - not only mood disorders but alcoholism, thrill seeking (perhaps through affairs, adrenaline charged outdoor activities), and de-stabilized relationships.

So coming to grips with yourself in the workplace in a realistic and not negative way is a very important part of how we deal with work or workplace stress. A half an hour ago I declared to my wife, after returning from work at the end of a long week, that while I am good at large scale conceptualization, creating research cultures, building strategic visions etc, when it gets down to supervising administrative staff to make sure that they have attended to all the necessary details and minutiae of my work place - I am definitely not very good. So I have to find a way to work around this so my colleagues and my supervisors do not suffer from my big picture view of the world.

I enjoy the research from Harvard and the work of people like Daniel Goleman. I am very supportive of the research that suggests that self-awareness and emotional intelligence are two of the major performance characteristics that predict successful outcomes. I generally look at five performance factors in an organization: productivity (not easy to measure in some organizations); punctuality (and time on task); absenteeism (sickies etc); presenteeism (at work but doing virtually nothing); and staff turnover. All of these variables impact job output and job satisfaction.

People, especially leaders and managers who are low on self-awareness and emotional intelligence will not be successful in their workplace. They will add to work stress, not reduce it. The productivity of their organizational units will be lower. They will have higher absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and lower productivity. Those who work but do not supervise who are unaware and emotionally dull create upward problems just as effectively as managers create downwards problems.

What does it mean if one has a high or very high emotional intelligence (EI)? I will draw upon some material from an earlier article as it sums up nicely why self-awareness and emotional intelligence is important. If you have high levels of EI, you probably have a fairly positive self-esteem, you are probably very happy, you probably maintain good relationships and understand people quite well, you manage life's stressful events and challenges well and you are probably handling virtually all aspects of your life very comfortably.

So you want to improve your lot in organizational life? Start with yourself. Reduce your stress, lower the stress levels of your partners, and minimize workplace stress for your colleagues by sitting down and doing an audit of your personal and inter-personal style. Ask a good but frank and honest friend to give you advice. And, to reduce the stress issues that seem to surround you, work on a personal improvement plan as outlined by your friend.

Dr Jeff, a psychologist, writes about stress. In this article he provides additional insights into the concept of self-awareness and emotional intelligence in terms of their effect on workplace stress. People need to learn how to manage stress and they need help to relieve stress. Dr Bailey integrates sound research with extensive clinical knowledge from his therapy with his patients. He works hard to make his articles practical and helpful but all of his articles are based on sound research evidence. To find out more about how he helps people with stress relief and to learn effective ways to manage and reduce stress, visit his website to get a free book that will introduce you to effective stress management.

Persistence Or Failure In Goals

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