Is Job Stress a Pain or a Pleasure?

By Ash, Stephen | Supervisory Management, April 1990 | Go to article overview
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Is Job Stress a Pain or a Pleasure?

Ash, Stephen, Supervisory Management

Is Job Stress a Pain or a Pleasure?

A day in the life of a manager or supervisor can range from the routine to the frantic. Both of these extremes can provide ideal environments for certain people. Some individuals derive a discernible physical boost from dealing with stressful situations, while others, in similar environments, are made almost ill by the strain.

While it is still impossible to make general statements about just how much stress is good for you and how much is bad, it is possible to analyze your own reactions to the stresses you face on the job. With this self-knowledge, you can then try to adapt or change your work routines to create the best possible environment for yourself. It won't be perfect, of course, but it could be a lot more bearable for you and your employees.

Consider the following questions to get started on this personal analysis:

Do you feel best after routine or hectic days? Think about the last really frantic day you had at work. Perhaps half your department was out with the flu, the president of the organization needed some vital information fast, the phones never stopped ringing, and you didn't get to the morning mail until three o'clock! You managed to get everything accomplished, on time, but it was a real battle.

How did you feel as you closed the office door behind you? Some managers would undoubtedly feel exhausted - but others would feel exhilarated. Which was your dominant emotion?

Now consider a routine day, the kind where there are no surprises, few pressures. You are in a good mood, your co-workers are cooperative, you sail through the workload with time to spare. How do you feel at five o'clock? Relaxed and content? Or are you just a little bit let down, wishing that, somehow, the day could have been more exciting?

What do you do when work is slow? Some managers welcome such moments of temporary respite; they relax and quietly enjoy them. Others, however, feel frustrated by lulls. They use them to create new projects or take on new responsibilities to keep the juices flowing. Which tendency do you have?

How do you respond to crises on the job? When a deadline is suddenly pushed up, when a VIP arrives without warning, when a critical document gets lost in the mail, or when a customer is furious, how do you react? Do you feel challenged and excited - or worried and unsettled?

The temperament match

After giving some thought to these questions, you should have a pretty solid idea of what on-the-job stress does to you - or for you.

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