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HRM 370.

1 MANAGERIAL SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT Research Topic “Stressor could be the unique source of Managerial skills based Innovation & Change”.
Presented To: Jasim Uddin (JDn) Presented By: Group-6 Submission date: 8th April 2012

Prepared By


Table of content
1. Introduction 2. Topic Review & Analysis 3. Theoretical Framework 4. Relevant Examples & Feedbacks in Context of Bangladesh 5. Critical Analysis 6. Conclusion 7. References

Page Number


According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress is often linked or equated with challenge, but the two are very different. Challenge motivates and energizes us psychologically and physically to learn new skills and master given tasks. When a challenge is met, we feel a great sense of accomplishment. We feel relaxed and satisfied. Challenge is beneficial in the work environment as it helps increase productivity. This is what people are referring to when they say - "a little bit of stress is good for you." It might be more accurate to say - "a little challenge is good for you”. Stress can be a result of both positive and negative experience, and it is necessary part of our daily lives. From an evolutionary stand point stress was necessary for survival and some stress continues to be a helpful part of our modern lives since it motivates us to accomplish tasks or make needed changes. We all feel pressure of our environment during times of transition. For example we face stress at the time of our higher secondary graduation, feeling stress before an exam may be a critical motivator in studying for the exam. There are many different definitions and theories of stress. However, a commonly recognized one is the interactive model of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). It suggests there are three key components involved: a) the situation & demand, b) subjective & demands, c) perceived resources for meeting the demands. Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. A variety of factors contribute to workplace stress such as negative workload, isolation, extensive hours worked, toxic work environments, lack of autonomy, difficult relationships among coworkers and management, management bullying, harassment and lack of opportunities or motivation to advancement in one’s skill level. Managing stress is all about taking charge of thoughts, emotions, schedule, work environment and they of dealing with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life,


with time for work, relationships, relaxation and fun- plus the flexibility to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. Stress management starts with identifying the source of stress. This is not as easy as it sounds. However when stress is considered as challenge then it can be an unique source for managerial skills based on challenge and innovation.

Most of us experience stress at one time or another. Without stress, there would be no life. However, excessive or prolonged stress can be harmful. Stress is unique and personal. A situation may be stressful for someone but the same situation may be challenging for others. For example, arranging a world level symposium may be challenging for one person but stressful to another. Some persons have habit of worrying unnecessarily. Stress in organizations is widespread. About half of the workers feel the pressures of job-related stress. Extensive research shows that excessive job stress can adversely affect the emotional and physical health of workers. The result is decreased productivity, less satisfied, and less healthy workers. The role of management becomes one of maintaining an appropriate level of stress by providing an optimal environment, and by doing a good job in areas such as performance planning, role analysis, work redesign/job enrichment, continuing feedback, ecological considerations, and interpersonal skills training. Many modern organizations view the management of stress as a personal matter. An effort to monitor employee stress levels would be considered an invasion of privacy. However, Lawless (1991) found that nine out of ten employees felt that it was the employer’s responsibility to reduce worker stress and provide a health plan that covers stress illnesses. She emphasized that "employees have no doubt that stress-related illnesses and disability should be taken seriously. Employees expect substantive action by their employer and hold their employer financially responsible for the consequences of job stress." Work stress imposes enormous and far-reaching costs on workers’ wellbeing and corporate profitability,” says former Direct of National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) Linda Rosenstock. Rice (1992: 267) mentions a useful range of possible strategies to reduce and manage work related stress: redesign the 5

task, redesign the work environment, establish flexible work schedules, encourage participative management, include the employee in career development, analyze work roles and establish goals, provide social support and feedback, build cohesive teams, establish fair employment policies and share the rewards. Job stress mirrors the developmental peaks and valleys in the employee’s career. According to an international study of work stress, people bring several specific hopes to a job. They hope for rapid, or at lease steady, advancement. They hope for some freedom in the job and increased earning power. Preferably, they hope to learn new things and work at new jobs. Finally, they hope to find solutions to certain work problems (Veniga & Spradley, 1981: 196). People with high desire for controlling stress tend to have internal control, to have higher aspirations, to be more persistent and respond more to challenge, and to see themselves as the source of their success using stress in innovation (Burger, 1985:1521; Newton & Keenan, 1990: 1229-1230). Some jobs are quite simply more stressful than others. Various studies have shown that certain features associated with particular jobs are stressful. For example, the greater the extent to which the job requires: making decisions, constant monitoring of machines or materials, repeated exchange of information with others, unpleasant physical conditions, and performing unstructured rather than structured tasks, the more stressful the job tends to be (Hildebrand, 1986:80; Potgieter, 1996: 210). The more stressful the job is the more innovative changes are visible in the organization. According to Matt Buttell’s Productivity equation: Productivity = outputs / inputs (within a time period, quality considered) He then goes on to claim that stress both rational and misplaced impacts the inputs variable in the equation. Stress can help employees to be motivated and creative (e.g. only two more hours to get this done, let’s get working!), but it also can make the employee freak out about small, irrelevant factors in work. No one reaches peak performance without being stressed, whether an athlete, an office worker or a manager. Other sources of stress in organizations can be changed. One particularly effective way for managers to minimize employee stress is to clarify ambiguities, such as job assignments and responsibilities. (Arnold and Feldman, 1986) Employee stress is directly related to the amount of uncertainty in their tasks, expectations, and roles.


Managers can encourage employees to search for more information when they are given unfamiliar tasks, or when they are uncertain of their roles. Stress can be a motivator and a unique managerial skill. For example, if a manager is stressed out because of have a big assignment due, this may motivate him to work on it and complete it. The stress can help him to put in his very best effort. If the manager is afraid of losing job, stress may encourage him to raise his own standards and make improvements he most likely would not have made without the threat of unemployment. Situations, circumstances or any stimulus that is perceived to be a threat is referred to as a stressor, or that which causes or promotes stress."(Brian Luke Seaward). There are many other successful ways of dealing with stress. These include stress reduction workshops, tranquilizers, biofeedback, meditation, self-hypnosis, and a variety of other techniques designed to relax an individual. Programs that teach tolerance for ambiguity often report positive effects. One of the most promising is a health maintenance program that stresses the necessity of proper diet, exercise and sleep. People often work well under certain stress leading to increased productivity. Many times employees do not know in advance and the stress periods may be sudden. The situation may not be under control. Too much stress is harmful. Managers should know their level of stress that allows them to perform optimally in the organization.


Mangers of organizations have a dual perspective of stress. They need to be aware of their own stress levels, as well as those of their subordinates. Most of the literature focuses on ways of reducing stress. There are many other successful ways of dealing with stress. Stress can be a motivator and also stress is not always bad. It could be the unique source of skills, innovation & organizational change. Managers must learn to monitor the stress levels, firstly to identify the optimum level of stress and secondly to learn when they must intervene to increase or decrease the level of stress. This way stress works positively. By managing stress we can improve our quality of life and do a better job, either in academic life or professional life. If stress is not handled properly it can increase the negative consequences for an individual.

Optimum Stress


Area of Optimum Performance

Low Stress Boredom

High Stress Anxiousness Unhappines

Relationship between Stress and Performance
The above diagram represents the relationship between stress and performance. When an employee is in the Low Stress Boredom stage he tends to be in less stress and performs moderately. When the employee is in the Optimal Stress level he is in stress 8

still performance in high. The reason behind of giving augmented level of performance is motivation and stress. Stress not always works negatively it can work in a positive way in work performance as shown in the above diagram. But high level of stress brings anxiousness and unhappiness. So, when stress seems to be in a moderate level employee’s work performance increases and gives higher productivity in the organization. There are essentially three strategies for dealing with stress in organizations (Jick and Payne, 1980): 1) Treat the symptoms, 2) Change the person, and 3) Remove the cause of the stress. When a person is already suffering from the effects of stress, the first priority is to treat the symptoms. This includes both the identification of those suffering from excessive stress, as well as providing health-care and psychological counseling services. The second approach is to help individuals build stress management skills to make them less vulnerable to its effects. The third approach is to eliminate or reduce the environmental situation that is creating the stress. This would involve reducing environmental stressors such as noise and pollution, or modifying production schedules and work-loads.

Selye’s General Model of Stress:
Hans Selye’s model deals with how the stress is a physiological reaction to all stressors. He observed by studying rats that all reactions to stressors were basically similar, the body's adrenalin level rises and there is heightened awareness. He claimed the body was nonspecific, that it reacted to all stressors the same.

Stage: 1 ALARM STRESSORS Anxiety Fear Sorrow Depression Confusion

Stage: 2 RESISTANCE Aggression Regression Repression Withdrawal Fixation

Stage: 3 EXHAUSTION Physical Psychological Interpersonal


Selye's model is called the general adaption syndrome or GAS. It is split into three stages. The first stage is called Alarm Stage which is characterized by acute increases in Anxiety or Fear if the stressor is a threat or by increase in Sorrow or Depression if the stressor is a loss. These reactions are largely self-correcting if the stressor is of brief duration. However, if it continues, the individual enters the Resistance Stage, in which defense mechanisms predominate and the body begins to store up excess energy. Five types of Defense Mechanism are typical of most people who experience extended levels of stress. The first is Aggression, which involves attacking the stressor directly. Second is Regression, which is the adoption of behavior pattern or response that was successful at some earlier time. A third defense mechanism, Repression, involves denial of the stressor, forgetting, or redefining the stressor. Withdrawal is the fourth defense mechanism and it may engage in fantasy, inattention or purposive forgetting. And the last level is Fixation, which persisting in a response regardless of its effectiveness. While each Reaction Stage may be experienced as temporarily uncomfortable, the Exhaustion Stage is the most dangerous one. When stressors overpower or outlast the resiliency capabilities of individuals or their ability to defend against them, chronic stress is experienced and negative personal and organizational consequences generally follow. Such as Physiological (e.g. heart disease), Psychologically (e.g. severe depression), Interpersonally (e.g. dissolution of relationships).These changes result from the damage done to an individual for which there was no defense from an inability to defend continuously against a stressor or from lack of self-awareness so that stress is completely unacknowledged.

‘Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

Change the Situation • Avoid the stressor. • Alter the stressor.

Change the Reaction Adapt to the stressor. • Accept the stressor.


Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. First step is Learn how to say “no” – By knowing the limits and stick to them. Whether in personal or professional life, managers should refuse to accept added responsibilities when they are close to reaching them. Taking on more than they can handle is a surefire recipe for stress. Second step is Avoid people who stress out – If someone consistently causes stress life and one cannot turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time they spend with that person or end the relationship entirely. Third step is Controlling the Environment – If the evening news makes someone anxious, then he should turn the TV off. If traffic’s got one tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, the avoiding it one can go for grocery shopping online. Fourth step is Avoid hot-button topics – If a manager get upset over religion or politics, he should cross them off from conversation list. If de repeatedly argues about the same subject with the same people, he might stop bringing it up or excuse when it is the topic of discussion. And the last step is Pare downing To-Do list – By analyzing the schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If someone got too much on the plate, distinguish between the “should” and the “musts” the he might drop tasks that are not truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely. Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation If a manager cannot avoid a stressful situation, the he might try to alter it. Figure out what he can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. The very first step of Alter the Situation is Express the feelings instead of bottling them up- If something or someone is bothering, communicate concerns in an open and respectful way. If he or she should not voice the feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same. Second step is willing to compromiseWhen one ask someone to change their behavior, he should willing to do the same. If both are willing to bend at least a little, one might have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground. Third step is being more assertive- an employee must not take a backseat in his own life. He must deal with problems head on, do the best to anticipate and prevent them. Fourth step is to Managing Time- Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When a manager stretched too thin and running


behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if he plans ahead then he should not overextend. Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor If a manager cannot change the stressor, he might change himself. He can adapt to stressful situations and regain his sense of control by changing his expectations and attitude. Firstly, reframe problems-By viewing stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to a favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. Secondly Looking at the big picture- Taking perspective of the stressful situation. If a manager asks himself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, he might focus on time and energy elsewhere. Thirdly By Adjusting StandardsPerfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. By stop setting up for failure by demanding perfection. Setting reasonable standards for a manager and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.” Lastly Focus on the positive-When stress is getting one down; he must take a moment to reflect on all the things that appreciate in his life, including his own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help a manager keep things in perspective. Stress management strategy #4: Accept the stressor Some sources of stress are unavoidable. One can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation that can’t change. First step is not to controlling the uncontrollable things-Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things one can control such as the way he chooses to react to problems. Second step is Look for the upside- As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, one should tries to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If his own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from his mistakes. Third step is Sharing the feelings- One should talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what he or she is going through can


be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing he can do to alter the stressful situation. And Lastly Learning of forgiveness- Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. One should let go of anger and resentments from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.


Relevant Example
Employees often face to mental and emotional pressures as part of their daily work lives. These pressures can be related to working conditions, competing priorities, demanding schedules, management or team practices, standards of quality or worklife balance. When the pressure becomes too great, people fall victim to stress, which causes a variety of mental and physical illnesses. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is one of the most top pharmaceutical companies all over the worlds. They have 100,000 employees’ worldwide and 116 numbers of offices in several counties. In response to use stress management in innovation and change GSK implemented a “Team Resilience” program for its employees and managers in 2001. GSK executed this program to take corrective team actions against job stressors. The program included an online survey designed for GSK by Dr. Stephen Williams, an international expert on workplace stress. The assessment provides managers and employees with information about the sources of job-related stress and the levels of different pressures experienced by the work team. After discussing the assessment results, managers and their teams use organizational development tools to map action plans, prioritize needs and begin to work on making fundamental changes to enhance their mental well-being. Team Resilience is one of the key components of the Employee Health Management (EHM) department, which is part of HR Corporate Shared Services. EHM is responsible for developing partnerships with the customer (business and employees) to enhance GSK’s health and well-being. The GSK stressprevention strategy is a companywide commitment to improving the resilience of the staff. The term “resilience” is used in an effort to refocus staff toward workplace health and well-being. It emphasizes the positive nature of organizational initiatives aimed at improving performance in a competitive business environment, as well as emphasizes the positive nature of taking personal responsibility for maintaining good health at the individual level. Besides, GSK often arranges workshops for their employees, from what they may learn new assessments for their workplace and train themselves to cover up with workplace and personal stressors. More likely to be said, GSK often sends their prospective employees to visit their foreign ventures. So that, they may understand the global competitiveness of the company and that may 14

motivate themselves to work under high stressors in the organizational environment. So, as a result of these, GSK’s productivity increasing rapidly and they are successfully reducing employee turn-over from their organization.