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Sunday, November 29, 2009



We all face different challenges and obstacles, and sometimes the pressure is hard to handle. When we feel overwhelmed, under the gun, or unsure how to meet the demands placed on us, we experience stress. In small doses, stress can be a good thing. It can give you the push you need, motivating you to do your best and to stay focused and alert.

Job stress in organizations is widespread. About half of all American 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. This paper will first discuss the symptoms and causes of stress, and then explore ways in which managers might reduce stress in themselves and their subordinates.

Definition of Stress

Stress can be defined as a psycholigical satate of the individual which develops because the person is faced with situations that “tax or exceed available resources(internal or external), as appraised by the person involved”(Lazarus,1978).

Stress is a psychological and physiological response to events that upset our personal balance in some way.

Causes of Stress

Stressors are the wide variety of things that cause stress for individuals. Some stressors can be traced directly to what people experienced in workplace, whereas others derive from nonwork and personal factor.


Stress Performance Connection

Type A and Type B Personality

A simple division of preference or personality type is into Type A and Type B, which is based broadly on anxiety and stress levels.

Type A

The Type A personality generally lives at a higher stress level. This is driven by

• They enjoy achievement of goals, with greater enjoyment in achieving of more difficult goals. They are thus constantly working hard to achieve these.
• They find it difficult to stop, even when they have achieved goals.
• They feel the pressure of time, constantly working flat out.
• They are highly competitive and will, if necessary create competition.
• They hate failure and will work hard to avoid it.
• They are generally pretty fit and often well-educated (a result of their anxiety).

Type B

The Type B personality generally lives at a lower stress level and are typically:

• They work steadily, enjoying achievements but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved.
• When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either enjoy the game or back down.
• They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.
• They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds.

Stress Management

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. However, a more appropriate approach might be to examine ways of optimizing stress.

Stress management encompasses techniques intended to equip a person with effective coping mechanisms for dealing with psychological stress, with stress defined as a person's physiological response to an internal or external stimulus that triggers the fight-or-flight response. Stress management is effective when a person utilizes strategies to cope with or alter stressful situations.

There are two basic approaches

• Individual approaches
• Organizational approaches

Individual approaches
-Time management
-Physical exercise
-Relaxation training- Not all stress can be avoided, but when it hits, relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can provide relief.
-Social support and teamwork- Stress management for team members contains information on causes of stress that go beyond the usual work and interpersonal factors. (Team Technology)

The potential causes of stress are numerous and highly individual. What you consider stressful depends on many factors, including your personality, general outlook on life, problem-solving abilities, and social support system. Something that's stressful to you may not faze someone else, or they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.

The pressures and demands that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that forces us to adjust can be a stressor. This includes positive events such as getting married or receiving a promotion. Regardless of whether an event is good or bad, if the adjustment it requires strains our coping skills and adaptive resources, the end result is stress.

Organizational approaches

• Selection and placement
• Goal setting
• Job redesign
• Organizational communication
• Wellness programs

Managers also can take active steps to minimize undesirable stress in themselves and their subordinates. Those actions that can be used to reduce stress in workers.

1. Clarifying task assignments, responsibility, authority, and criteria for performance evaluation.
2. Introducing consideration for people into one's leadership style.
3. Delegating more effectively and increasing individual autonomy where the situation warrants it.
4. Clarifying goals and decision criteria.
5. Setting and enforcing policies for mandatory vacations and reasonable working hours


The social climate of an organization is often viewed as a cause of stress. However, social climate is a relativistic concept, and "the social climate of an organization is whatever most of the people think it is.


• Albrecht, K. 1979. Stress and the Manager. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
• Arnold, H. J., and Feldman. 1986. Organizational Behavior. New York: McGraw Hill.
• Reitz, H. J. 1986. Behavior in Organizations. Homewood, IL: Irwin.
• Friedman, M. (1996). Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment. New York: Plenum Press (Kluwer Academic Press)
• Jenkins, C.D., Zyzanski, S.J., & Rosenman, R.H. (1971). Progress toward validation of computer-scored test for the type A coronary-prone behavior pattern. Psychosomatic Medicine, 33, 193-202

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