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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is Your Organization Causing You Stress?

By: Tony Robinson

We live in a society of "joiners." We like to join churches,
clubs, and fraternal organizations. We like to join classes and
magazine subscription drives. We simply enjoy being with other
people, and so we spend much of our lives in groups. Certainly,
this is a good thing--not only for our own mental health, but
also for the good of society as a whole. And yet, no
organization is a perfect entity. Organizations often breed
conflict within their ranks. The conflicts may be between people
on the same level, or between people at different levels of the
organizational hierarchy. The conflicts may be one-time
disagreements, or bruising fights which last for eons. While
some conflicts can be attributed to personality clashes, others
stem from the organization itself.

Whether you're involved in parent-teacher organizations or a
writers' free speech group, you might find that you're running
up against organization-induced stress. This can come in a
variety of forms. To begin with, it might be caused by the fact
that the organization seems to have lost its sense of purpose.
It may be wandering aimlessly and lack clearly-defined goals. As
a result, you might feel a great deal of stress since you aren't
certain where the organization is headed--or even if you want to
go along for the ride. If you come across this problem, the best
thing to do is to air your concerns to someone in a position of
authority. It is entirely possible that the leadership will
ignore your concerns, but at least you've tried. If you fail to
achieve a workable solution, you might then be forced to leave
the organization. But you'll leave knowing that you attempted to
have a positive impact.

While most organizations have people in positions of
leadership, many groups lack true leaders. As a result, members
of the organization may experience a great deal of stress,
having to deal with constant uncertainty. A true leader takes
charge of an organization. He or she has a clear vision of what
needs to be accomplished and promotes a team atmosphere in order
to get the job done. If you are in an organization that appears
to be leaderless, try to identify potential leaders. Encourage
them to seek leadership, and assure them that you will support
their candidacies. Such a strategy can help to alleviate the
stress of all concerned.

Another problem that can lead to stress is an uncooperative
organizational culture. There may be a feeling that each person
in the organization is on his or her own, that each person
should be an independent operator. As a result, the individuals
within the organization may feel isolated and alone. The best
defense against such a situation is healthy communication. Talk
to other members of the group and find out if they are sensing
an uncooperative atmosphere too. Then, get together and confront
the person in charge. You might be amazed at what your small
committee can do to effect change within the organization--and
you might find your stress level subsiding considerably.

Yet another stress-inducing situation is organizational
pessimism. Do members feel as if things will never get better?
Are they frustrated and angry? Is there a sense of hopelessness
in the ranks? If so, you and other members of the group may be
experiencing a great deal of stress. You can lessen the stress
by promoting a positive attitude. Make sure that you offer
positive input when confronted with problems, and encourage
other members of the organization to do the same. With a little
bit of effort, you can turn your organization around--and lessen
your stress in the process.

Organizational stress may take you by surprise. You might have
joined the organization to relieve your stress, so when stress
occurs in the group, you need to undergo a major attitude
re-adjustment. The important thing to remember in such a
situation is that you are not alone. Chances are other members
of the group are experiencing the same kinds of things that you
are. Trust your judgment and don't be afraid to express your
displeasure if things go wrong. The more you express your
feelings, the more likely you are to reduce your stress.

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