Travel Stress


We travel to get to work, we travel during our work, and we travel to get to distant meetings. Travel comes in all forms: short and long timeframes and short and long distances. For most people, the commonest hurdle is the daily grind to and from work. This is most acute in large cities. The problems are truly international, but some of the ugliest and best-studied traffic jams are now everywhere.

The levels of stress that this brings are extremely significant. For those who handle it poorly, it can be damaging  to their health, and may even endanger the lives of others. Medically, we know that stress mechanisms all fire at once when the body identifies a crisis. Adrenaline pours out, the stomach shuts down, the pulse races, and the hair stands up on end. The blood pressure soars, muscles clench in spasms around the shoulder tips and jaw,  and primal aggressions rise, ready for fight or flight.

With immediate flight brings out of the question, more and more frustrated drivers are turning to the fight option—either inside their cars as they tip at the heels of slower drivers, or outside their cars, where they may stomp up and beat a dent into the roof of an offending vehicle. Even the mild and polite become aggressive when they strap themselves into their bumper cars to drive to work. This means they usually arrive late, enraged and spent before they even start to face the day’s stresses on the job.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sources of Conflict


Conflict flows from frustration and aggression. We feel concerned with conflict involving people who interact aggressively to achieve their goals, often at the perceived expense of others. The causes of conflict may be found in people, things, or conditions. It is important to diagnose as correctly as possible the underlying causes of conflicts, because sometimes they are not what they appear to be on the surface. For example, some conflicts between individuals are hastily diagnosed as mere personality conflicts, when in fact structural factors may be the basic cause.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Consequences of a Bad Boss


The leading cause of stress is the bad boss. In most organizations everyone in the company expect the chief executive officer has a boss, or has the potential to become a boss, even if that means you are instructing an apprentice or a student who is at the company for a short time on a work orientation program.

In terms of making our own choices in response to stress, even the very lowest person on the work ladder is still a boss—a boss of his or her own department. Thus, what a lot of people complain of having a bad boss, the corollary is that most of us are bad bosses—if not of others, then at least of ourselves.

The damage that a bad boss does is sometimes far more widespread than is seen at the time. With the ultimate control, as well as, knowledge of the bigger picture, the boss escapes the highest levels of stress at work, but can still be a powerful stress carrier. In just the same way that a child who is humiliated by a bully comes home and yells at a younger sibling, a boss can transfer anxieties and stresses to employees without ever letting them know the reasons behind the negative behavior.

When an employee is frustrated all day by the boss, these frustrations tend to get transferred along to innocent bystanders, rather like one of those dreadful chain letters. One may see drastic repercussions, ranging from demoralization and loss of self-worth, to burnout of virtually any organ system in the body. In the brain this burnout takes the form of fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, or obsessive behavior. Aggression can be triggered, causing such tragedies as life and child beating or even mass murders during a sudden wild shooting spree. Bad bosses are even the motivation for some suicides. In the stomach or heart, the results of a bad boss are often seen in ulcers or heart attacks.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Avoiding Uncertainty


How do people deal with conflict, particularly aggression and the expression of feelings? High uncertainty avoidance favors precise rules, teachers who are always right and superiors who should be obeyed without question. Low uncertainty avoidance leads to flexibility, and a situation in which arguing with superiors is acceptable and students are happy with teachers who do not claim to know everything.

In weak uncertainty avoidance cultures, managers and non-managers alike feel definitely uncomfortable with systems of rigid rules, especially if it is evident that many of these were never followed. In strong uncertainty avoidance cultures people feel equally uncomfortable without the structure of a system of rules, even if many of these are impractical and impracticable.

The choice of structure is strongly influenced by the prevalent culture. A culture with high power distance and strong uncertainty avoidance prefers a functional ‘pyramid of people’ hierarchy. Lower power distance but high uncertainty avoidance encourages a ‘well-oiled machine’: an organization with a clear structure, rules and procedures.

The control process also helps managers deal with problems arising outside the firm. If the firm is the subject of negative publicity, for example, management should use the control process to determine why and to guide the firm’s response.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

A Bad Boss


Bad bosses are people too, with their own fears, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes the pompous ones are basically shy and insecure. The ones who yell at people and unduly assert their aggression may be having significant family problems. Bosses with personal health problems may take these out on the staff. Still other bosses may be nice people who are simply in over their heads, and have absolutely no aptitude for the jobs.

By realizing that human frailties often underlie even the most objectionable qualities of bad bosses, employees can be in a better position to deal with them, and to judge whether the situation is temporary or hopeless. They may help them decide whether to stick it out or quit the job.

Even though a bad boss counts on the inertia of the human spirit, you can break free of the intangible bonds that bind. Also beware of some of the tangible bonds. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an enormous mortgage, or you will not have the option of cooling off in another job at a reduced salary. There is a shortage of skilled labor, and a tremendous shortage of versatile labor (people who will accept a total change in career direction when circumstances dictate). Even if you end up with a different bad boss, at least the change will be refreshing. Remember that the average worker will have between four and six complete job changes in the course of working lifetime, so you don’t need to be caught in the “one company, for better or for work” trap for your whole career.

People need a mission in life. If this is denied by a bad boss at work, there are other ways to fulfill this need—ways that will still allow an overall sense of accomplishment. It is obviously bad business for any company to have such a reversal of energies affecting its operation. However, concentrating most of their energies on pursuits outside of work is a common defense against the bad boss when employees elect to stay with their jobs rather than resigning.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Coping with Frustration


There are three general approaches to coping with frustration: 1) to ignore it, 2) to recognize it, and 3) to attack a non-related target, and a fourth is to change strategies for reaching the goal by going around the barrier, developing new skills, or acquiring new resources. The third general approach—attacking a non-related target—is normally dysfunctional and utilized by those unable or unwilling to accept their frustration and confront their sources directly.

We may respond unconsciously to frustration with one or more of a variety of psychological defences. We utilize these, usually unconsciously, to protect our self-concepts. These defences help us block all the force of more reality than we can take at a particular time. They can also be dysfunctional if they are used too frequently or block us from coping with our problems in more direct and effective ways. A desirable learning goal is to become more aware of the defenses we use and to avoid those that prevent us from dealing with our frustrations as well as we might.

Mild frustration may not lead to anger and aggression, although intense frustration always does. A more pessimistic view would imply that little can be done about choosing when and how we express our frustration. We think much can be learned.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight