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Managing Change And Stress

No matter what is the reason and purpose, change will automatically result to resistance: either initially or continually. Because how every individual is shaped by his inherent, personal history; by the recurring circumstances of his life; by the circumstances in his job; by the recurrence of changes – resistance is a natural reaction. The reasons for resistance to change are: “1) The risk of change is seen as greater than the risk of standing still. 2) People feel connected to other people who are identified with the old way

3) People have no role models for the new activity 4) People fear they lack the competence to change 5) People feel overloaded and overwhelmed 6) People have healthy skepticism and want to be sure new ideas are sound 7) People fear hidden agendas among would-be reformers 8) People feel the proposed change threatens their notions of themselves 9) People anticipate a loss of status or quality of life 10) People genuinely believe that the proposed change is a bad idea” (Schuler, n. d. ) These reasons are based on the general characteristic of change: it is an unknown.

There is the perception that doing something differently does not offer full-proof certainty. Change

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can also detach an individual from familiar surroundings and familiar people. Change will bring new environment, new ways, new attitudes and styles from people. Such adjustment breaks the bond of attachment. There is also the need for a proven pattern or model that change must warrant. It becomes a chicken and egg story. Until and unless a change has shown a positive example that ended up with positive results, then change creates anxiety. There is also a worry about failure.

This can emanate from a deficient assessment of one’s skill. Change can be burdensome. Responsibilities that are aligned and adjustments that are redefined can cause awesome effect to some individuals. Feelings of being overloaded and overwhelmed endangers sanity therefore such congruence of change causes fear. As doubt is an initial reaction to something new, some individuals will tend to be wary to the degree of hesitation. Resistance is also caused by the suspicion that the proponents of change might have vested interests on the changes being implemented.

The initial feeling of distrust from the individuals to be subject to change is natural. The concept of change creates a feeling of insecurity on the individuals to be subjected to change: the feeling of being irrelevant, losing merit or value in work contribution, etc. Individuals who resist change are afraid that something valuable will be lost. People have already established comfort zones in the patterns of their lives and work. Any change shatters that peace and resistance will then surface.

It is therefore imminent that change management be very astute and discerning to effect change. It is because “even when individuals can align the change with their self-interest and belief system, the uncertainty of success and fear of the unknown can block change. Resistance to change can spread and become a significant barrier to success. ” (Hiatt & Creasey, 2003) The initial reaction to resist change may be natural but it should not be allowed to be sustain. The reason and purpose of change are well studied, researched, prepared, organized and implemented process.

Therefore, there are “three critical and relevant lessons for change management practitioners related to employee resistance and the power of comfort with the status quo” and they are: “(a)Do not react to resistance with surprise: expect it and plan for it. Be patient with individuals as they work their way through the change process (b) Assess resistance not only from an individual’s natural aversion or dislike to change, but also based on how much other change is going on (what is the capacity for more change)

(c) Persistent and prolonged resistance from middle management (or anyone in the organization) that is not addressed by executive sponsors can threaten a project and compromise success. Sponsors must determine and understand why the resistance exits and deal with the root cause” (Hiatt & Creasey, 2003) To minimize resistance, there are four approaches to the application of change. One is behavioral, wherein application of change is through rewards and punishment. There is the cognitive approach that applies change through acknowledgement and appreciation of situation that needs change).

A psychodynamic approach creates a balance of the change in the outside surroundings of the person vis-a-vis the change in the inside of the person). The fourth approach is the humanistic psychological that creates a combination of the first three. The choice of the appropriate approach to change to avoid resistance will be dependent on the thorough study of the change managers. The overall principle is that every human being has different threshold towards change and each minute detail of everything about ever person must be taken into consideration.

“Individuals will go through a process which, either in hindsight or from an observer’s point of view, will have a number of different phases which themselves are delineated in time and by different characteristics. However the stages themselves will not necessarily have clear beginnings or endings, and characteristics from one stage may appear in other stages” (Cameron & Green, 2004) STRESS AT WORK: CAUSE AND MANAGEMENT Jobs and work and responsibilities cause stress and it is inevitable. No matter how big or small a job responsibility is – it can cause stress.

And stress affects the entire well being of a person. It can also affect everything else and everyone else around the person. Everyone from the individual himself to everyone around him – his family and his job – all understand and will feel and will know when stress has set in into a person. It can cause job inefficiency, low productivity, diminishing self-esteem, low morale and definitely, illness. The effect is from the mild reflection of irritation to the more drastic result of disability or death. When stress is slowly being contracted by a person, he will feel loss in appetite.

His heart can beat faster, his blood vessels could dilate, his breathing is heavy and fast and his blood pressure rises. Next, the person will totally resist any further activity. Finally, the sense of exhaustion will manifest illness like acidity or ulcers; high blood pressure or heart disease. What causes job or work stress come from two factors: “….. those that arise from within an individual (internal), and those that are attributable to the environment (external)”. (Walonick, n. d. ) . The internal factor could be traced from hidden fears, anxieties, worries, guilt.

The external factor can be caused by work overload; information overload; conflict of interests amongst peers; being unappreciated; family conflict; economic circumstances. Stress can result to ruined relationships. It can deter life patters or work patterns. The person that is stressed becomes withdrawn. The mood becomes very erratic and unpredictable. Therefore, from the person who is stressed to everything and everyone around him are highly affected. “The effects of stress on the organization are numerous.

Studies have documented that it leads to more workplace accidents; higher rates of absenteeism and turnover; lower group morale; labor unrest including grievances, strikes and sabotage; and losses in productivity. The costs of such outcomes are staggering. ” (Berryman-Fink, 1996) Therefore a “stress management program” must be devised to avoid the dire consequences of this work deterrence. There are two phases recommended: the first rests on the individual who must “learn how to identify, monitor and reduce stress in their lives.

” The second phase rests on the organization who “must revise its personal procedures, managerial styles and physical environment to be less stressful to employees”. (Berryman-Fink, 1996) When the person begins his assessment of himself, he must honestly reckon any changes they are experiencing as to what their body feels. Examining the realistic pace that an individual goes through with his life is a good place to start. Ways and means of relax and exercise must be looked into. A realistic analysis of what causes the stress must be resolved.

Good eating habits must be adopted. Being surrounded by friends and family and having leisure time fun together will help. Be honest in sharing with a confidante what worries an individual will do a lot of good. If there is a need to change life habits, a person who is stressed will see how relieved he can be. Time management and setting priorities will be a lot of help to minimize stress. The company, the organization can help a lot to minimize if not totally avoid stress creeping to its employees.

Training programs to handle and/or manage stress could be instituted. A more open and honest communication between subordinates and superiors in an organization will effectively reduce anxieties in the workplace. A very clear knowledge and understanding of responsibilities and expectations will create a smooth working relationship and environment. A very clear definition of business objectives, corporate policies, leadership style will make employees aware of what they are into.

Solidifying teamwork and fair distribution of workload and responsibilities will contribute to a stress-free work environment. It goes without saying that corporate and organizational objective towards avoidance of stress is a very healthy way of pursing profitability and success. “Work on customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction also provides impressive evidence of the business benefits of building employee well-being. If employees are satisfied with their job, work environment and working relationships, etc.

, then this will be ‘reflected’ in satisfied customers, via good customer service/service quality. ” (Burke & Cooper, 2008) THE INTERACTION OF ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND STRESS It will indeed come to pass that any change in an organization can cause stress. The operative concept is the “unknown”. “During times of stress and uncertainty, you can anticipate some predictable issues, problems and opportunities. ”. (Hatfield, 2000). When there is change in an organization, the reactions will be varied. Some will keep an open mind; some will give it a try; some will resist.

The degree of managing one’s reaction to change and the possible it stress it can bring about rests on interactive techniques; sharing and talking it out. Individuals must feel free to ask questions; seek clarification; air opinion; participate in open forum and discussions about the change. As people will go through the anxiety of organizational change, they must be ready to alert themselves to avoid the extension of such anxiety to his family and friends. Leave the burden of the uncertainty of change in the office.

The pressures and demands of organizations, work and job responsibilities will perpetually bear on an individual, an employee many faces of challenges. It is easier said than done to internalize a positive mode all through out. Yet, it is the individual himself, the employee who should realize that there is no one else that must be take into prime consideration than himself and his well being to achieve mutual success. References: Schuler, A. J. , “Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance”. n. d. Schuler Solutions Inc.

http://www. schulersolutions. com/resistance_to_change. html (accessed 26 Jan 2009) Hiatt, Jeffrey M. & Creasey, Timothy J. “Change Management: The People Side of Change”. 2003. Pages 21-22 Prosci Publishers Cameron, Esther & Green, Mike. “Making Sense of Change Management: A Complete Guide to the Models, Tools and Techniques of \ Organizational Change”. 2004. Page 34 Kogan Page Publishers Walonick, David S. “Causes and Cures of Stress in Organizations”. n. d. http://www. survey-software-solutions. com/walonick/organizational-stress.

htm (accessed on 26 Jan 2009) Berryman-Fink, Cynthia. “The Manager’s Desk-Reference”. 1996. Pages 287-288, 292-295 AMACOM Div American Management Association Burke, Ronald J. & Cooper, Cary L. “Building More Effective Organizations: HR Management and Performance in Practice”. 2008. Page 113 Cambridge University Press Heathfiled, Susan M. “Understanding Stress and Workplace Stress”. 2000 About. com: Human Resources http://www. humanresources. about. com/od/stressandtimemanagement/a/stress_time. htm (accessed 26 Jan 2009)

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