Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Organizational ogres

-By Swetha Amit
“Work place stress” is a common phenomenon in today’s tension-filled world.

Employees hurry and scurry about, with hassled expressions on their faces. Adrenalin levels rise with the approach of deadlines. A tense atmosphere stifles productivity, shrinking the required psychological space out of responsible individuals, leading them to a ‘distressed zone’, causing sleepless nights. A suave corporate office is gradually transformed into an air-conditioned devil’s abode.

Rather than be fulfilling, the professional lives instead takes a toll on these people, eventually manifesting itself into a never-ending nightmare interspersed with changes in the levels of daylight.

So, what exactly are these demons that change an organization’s working environment into a living hell? A look at Ajay’s case would provide valuable insight into these ‘organizational ogres’.

Ajay (name changed), a 29-year-old marketing executive in a multinational firm. He had a promising career, an enviable job profile, and an understanding boss who gave him the space needed for attaining the performance peaks he was looking for. Ajay had enough incentive to dream big and expect a bright future.

However, an unexpected turn of events disrupted his work life altogether. The entry of a new boss created tremors in his reporting relationship, as a nervous Ajay pulled up his socks to realign his performance to the expectations of a new individual altogether. Diametrically opposite to his predecessor, Ajay had to put up with harsh words and heavy criticism, instead of the appreciative words of encouragement that he was used to.

Soon, frustration set in. Despite several attempts to try and take it in his stride, he reached a point of saturation, beyond which things went downhill. Frequent clashes on thoughts and ideas, and incompatible styles of communication left him at loggerheads with his new boss, and much in despair. Loss of interest in his job soon followed, transforming a once enviable job profile into a mundane, monotonous drudgery.

Constant questioning, being treated like an inexperienced fresher, the absence of trust between him and his superior, and no freedom of action or decision-making eventually bruised his self esteem. A slow transformation occurred in his personality – from a vibrant and cheerful individual, to a cynical and irritable drone.

Such stories are now commonplace. Bosses have been found to be a major factor contributing to occupational stress. The issue manifests in several forms, leading to a significant employee turnover. Sometimes, the word ‘boss’ is enough for otherwise mature individuals to break into a sweat and send tension levels soaring. Arguably, ‘Monday morning blues’ result from an ever increasing ‘boss phobia’. After a relaxed weekend, the last thing one wants is to be piled with undue pressure and unwarranted criticism, at the start of the work-week. Being treated like a child is something most employees find hard to deal with. Pressure inhibits the working rhythm of an individual. Constant unwarranted questioning and volleys of instructions fired like bullets from a machine gun reduces initiative and self esteem to a point where even the mere idea of escape from the office surpasses the exhilaration of flight that a caged bird may get on spreading its wings.

The use of “need to know” is another set of inexplicable behaviour from superiors, who withhold pivotal information, and barely communicate at all, let alone implement any learning’s from corporate trainings on effective communcation.This results in understandable wounded feelings.

Arguments and disagreements with the boss can gnaw at the individual from within for days. In addition, the frugal use of positive reinforcement can demotivate a worker, especially when their mistakes publicized, but achievements do not receive similar coverage. The absence of empathy and resultant problems in understanding can create feeling of gloom and doom within the subordinate.

This attitude by superiors remains a mystery to these subordinates, who tend to ponder over such behaviour for hours together. Constant worrying and anxiety to be in the good books of their boss generates high levels of stress. Other factors such as the organizational culture and job profile play their own part in this great game of stress.

An environment where people crib on a perennial basis almost mandates that a new enthusiastic entrant necessarily emulate his/her seniors, or risk impairing interpersonal relations with co-workers which can then harass the mental well being and ultimately diverts his concentration. Unnecessary grapevine gossip has a similar effect and can take a toll on people. Obviously, a favorable environment is essential to generate effective performance.

The job profile itself can add fuel to the fire, and be another ogre. Frequent, unexpected travel and long working hours cause excess fatigue taking a toll on the sleep patterns and energy levels. Monetary incentives and salary structures generate a source of worry for many, especially with the pressure stay ahead of the inflation levels and more importantly their peer group.

The above mentioned factors emphasize the negative impact stress has on good, regular working people. One tends to perceive and equate the word ‘stress’ in a perpetually negative connotation. However, just like a coin has two facets, and we often tend to view only one side, its time to take a glance at the other side. In other words, isn’t it high time to see the positive note that is associated with the above mentioned ogres?

Written for www.msn.co.in



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that this is a great article which covers all facets of organizational Ogres.

This is a complete picturization of today's employees emotional standing in the corporate world.

I also believe in the point where it reasons as to why the EQ (Emotional Quotient)has become the most critical element in organizational behaviour of recent era. Making people aware on EQ should be the solution to this ogre.


4:06 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Thanks Dhiraj.

Yes I agree with you on the fact that EQ has indeed surpassed IQ at least in terms of combating the demon called stress.

5:18 AM  

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