Managing Role Demands and Stress; Self Role Sender and Stress

Manila Bulletin, November 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Managing Role Demands and Stress; Self Role Sender and Stress


Byline: Dr. R Dante G. Juanta, OAM

DEPARTMENT heads and principals in todays schools are multi-skilled persons shaped by their various roles. They are seen as institutional leaders, motivators, counselors, dreamers, innovators, firefighters and crisis managers. But they can be also their own worst enemies. As their own role senders, leaders in the school can inflict harm to themselves by creating excessive self-role demands that can ultimately lead to emotional distress and physical health problems.

Remember that stress is a natural part of life. It is a condition of the individual rather than a condition of the external situation. It is personal, not external. Stress results from the way we respond to things and events in our daily lives at work, at home or at play. We can become our own personal stressor. Hard driving and competitiveness, a strong urge to excel in all endeavors, working to accomplish more and more in less and less time can take us to a breaking point.

The major sources of self-made stress and pressures may be summarized in the following categories:

1. personal competence

2. self-relationship

3. conflicting values

4. social approval

5. isolation

6. expectations

7. self-fulfillment

8. deficiencies in the work environment

9. ego needs

10. self-inflicted stress

11. professional constraints

12. teacher and student relationship

A strategy for handling stress and job pressures

How we deal with stress and pressures varies from person to person because of differing personalities and abilities. Some heads of schools work longer hours in the office, in order to overcome role overloads. But many experienced administrators find out that as manhour capacity rises, there to comes along additional demands generated to fill their attention and time that only increase pressure, frustration and emotional strain. One strategy for reducing pressures and stress is to deal directly with the issues of roles and demands created by role senders and their expectations on the behavior of role incumbents.

Coping with external role senders

Here are some practical suggestions:

1. Open discussion with role senders. The object is to obtain mutual understanding of role relationships between the actor and the role sender and a match between expectations and translation of those demands by role receivers. Mature discussion between adults (as in TA Transactional Analysis) will help resolve conflicts and reduce frustrations among parties involved.

2. Use the role reversal technique. Ask the role senders how they would handle their expectations and the role demands if they were in the role receiver position. This technique can be a useful tool in making role senders more aware of and sensitive to the difficulties that demands create for role receivers.

3. Ask role senders to share responsibility. Tap the resources of people who make demands on you. Ask them to share some responsibility in the planning and implementation of initiatives they suggest. One disadvantage of this technique is that it can discourage people from coming forward with fresh ideas because of fears they will inherit the dirty job.

4. Alter the working environment. Rearrange the physical layout of the office and place a limit on your accessibility. The open door policy may be a good public relations exercise for the school or the department. But it virtually gives all callers access to you while being vulnerable to excessive and often unnecessary conflicting role demands. The office secretary or personal assistant may be asked to screen callers, and shoul be given appropriate inservice training to do this job.

5. Delegate. Delegating, but not dumping, of some responsibility to persons qualified to perform other role duties is a mark of an effective executive. …

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