Business of Stress: Organizational Change

Kandinsky_YellowRedBlue In the turbulence created by organizational change, there is a virtual certainty that employees and managers will come under significant stress and strain.

Putting operating processes in place for people to carry out their work together may prevent or at least mitigate unhealthy levels of stress. These processes can act as safeguard that will allow the task to be achieved in a way that is as efficient and as effective as possible.

Both participation in all of the processes of the work group and the development of a collaborative approach are at the heart of effective group work. Because of the tradition of autocratic leadership, neither participation nor collaboration are natural or automatic processes. Both require some learning and practice.

Glaser, R., & Glaser, C. Team effectiveness profile. King of Prussia, PA: Organizational Design and Development, Inc.

Without appropriate operating processes in place, it is not uncommon to experience negative outcomes in the functioning of a team:

  1. Pressures and priorities can push people into silo mentality and away from the team.
  2. Individual stress can rise to unhealthy levels.
  3. There is a tendency to focus more on the task than on people processes.
  4. Tensions, conflict, and stress can lead to insufficient focus on task accomplishment.
  5. Increases in stress and mistrust can occur if a coercive leadership style is overused in an attempt to correct imbalances.
What team changes are needed to better manage change?

Putting in place sound team operating processes can act like a lubricant, enabling healthy team functioning to resume. High levels of trust within a team are the bedrock for coping with conflict.

Typical trust-building areas that the leader must promote and the  team needs to address by discussing and agreeing include:

  1. Frequency, timing and agenda of meetings.
  2. Problem-solving and decision-making methodologies.
  3. Ground rules.
  4. Procedures for dealing with conflict when it occurs.
  5. Reward mechanisms for individuals contributing to team goals.
  6. Type and style of the review process.