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Organizational Change & Stress

Effects of Organizational Change

Before, during and after an organizational change, you and your colleagues might experience or more of these effects:

Anxiety connected with the loss of:

  • Sense of security
  • Sense of competence
  • Relationships
  • Sense of direction and control
  • Territory
  • Job
Anger, sense of betrayal Helplessness, vulnerability Uncertainty and ambiguity
Lowered concentration skills Active rumor mill Survivor guilt Desire to punish the organization
Heavier workloads Low morale Decreased productivity; burnout Increased stress-related symptoms (muscle tension, headaches, intestinal distress, depression, insomnia, exhaustion, prone to illness, etc.

    Challenges to Work Relationships During Transition

    More time needed to discuss the process of change and our reactions to it; less time to do it

    Less time available for informal relationship building

    Free time often spent talking about the changes Increased frequency of saying goodbye and forming new relationships
    Increase in time spent on training and orienting self or others when workload is already high Development of new reporting relationships Increase in rumors, gossip, complaining Increased frequency of interactions that feel tense or hostile; people less patient, not as diplomatic or polite
    Misunderstandings are more frequent: it is difficult to speak clearly and to hear accurately if emotional intensity is raised, or if people feel rushed Increased paranoia, resentment and mistrust of supervisors, managers and the institution

    Disruption in the sense of belonging to a team

    Increased competitiveness due to job insecurity:

    • Holding information back from others
    • Gathering up responsibilities
    • Increase in territorial behavior
    • Not cooperating, not speaking
    • Tattling, sabotage, self-marketing
    • Mistrust

    Managing Work-Related Stress

    Protect your health: notice and respond to stress warning signs

    Healthy lifestyle habits: good diet, adequate sleep, exercise

    Protect and use rest periods

    Focus attention on what you can control

    Avoid excessive overworking: separate work and home Keep up interests outside of work

    Limit setting: saying "no"

    Maintain sense of humor

    Develop and maintain supportive relationships


    Damage Control for Work Relationships During Organizational Change

    Honesty

    Ask for information and disseminate information about changes

    Acknowledge and accept our own and others' emotional reactions to change and adjust our expectations accordingly

    Help and encourage those around you

    Use reflective listening and check understandings with others. Take sufficient time with verbal interactions

    Exit from non-productive conversations involving complaints or rumors which are draining, anxiety provoking or depressing

    Remember your sense of humor

    In direct and respectful ways, ask for what you need, express feelings, and attempt to resolve conflicts

    Choose the right time and place for settling a dispute with someone

    Disengage from destructive, escalating arguments. Reschedule the discussion.

    Apologize after making a mistake that affects someone negatively

    Consider taking the first step to resolve a long-standing conflict with another


    Bibliography

    1. Bolton, Robert. People Skills. Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1979.
    2. Borysenko, Joan. Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. Addison-Wesley, 1987.
    3. Bramson, R., Coping With Difficult People. Valentine Books, 1981.
    4. Bridges, William. Managing Transitions. Addison-Wesley, 1991.
    5. Burns, David. Feeling Good. The New Mood Therapy. Avon, 1992.
    6. Gardner, John. On Leadership. Free Press, 1990.
    7. Lakein, A., How to Get Control of Your Time and Life. David McKay, 1973.
    8. Sapolsky, R., Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. Freeman and Co. 1994.
    9. Seligman, M., Learned Optimism, Knopf, 1990.
    10. Woodward, H. and Bucholz, S., Aftershock:Helping People through Corporate Change. Wiley, 1987.
    11. Miller, Emmett and Halpern, Steven. Letting Go of Stress. Source, P. O. Box W, Stanford, California (relaxation tape).