Organizational behaviour looks to develop models for sources of stress and how individuals respond to stress in the workplace. This field of study also looks at an individual’s locus of control, that is, to what extent members of an organization believe they can control events that affect them. An individuals’ locus of control relies on an individual’s personality, and affects how individuals see and respond to stressors in the workplace.
There are generally four types of stress. These four types are: anticipatory stressors (fear and unpleasant expectations), encounter stressors (interpersonal conflict), time stressors (too much work or unfavorable deadlines), and situational stressors (dissatisfaction with working conditions, etc.).
An individuals’ reaction to stress can be both physical and emotional: stress can take a toll on both the mind and the body. The costs of stress relate to a loss of sleep, mood disorders, and poor health in individuals as well as sick days, lost productivity, and workplace accidents in organizations. Burnout is an especially high cost that we try to manage.
According to Harvard Business School Professor Linda Hill, managers face unique sources of stress.1 These include:
- Role strain - overload, ambiguity and conflict - being pulled in different directions as a manager.
- Negativity - “eighty percent of the time people are coming in to see you for negative reasons.”
- Isolation - “I’m no longer one of the boys.”
- Burdens of leadership - managing risk, being a role model, and having power over people’s lives.
Ultimately, stress and emotions take a toll on organizations, and the number one cause of stress in organizations is ineffective management. Effective managers understand stress in organizations, and have the emotional intelligence to deal with both their own stress and others’. Many management development programs now include a more holistic approach to leadership coaching, including personal development and lifestyle coaching, to help managers deal with stress by finding their own leadership styles and work-life balance.
1. Hill, Linda (2003). Becoming a Manager. Harvard Business Review Press: Boston.