Managing stress in the workplace

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Anyone in a stressful job can burn out.

And we do burn out.

What is your unique situation?

Do you know the stresses in it?

Can you take control of them before they control you?

There exist various causes of stress at work.

Some of them include:

  • Difficulty obtaining information required to do your job
  • Reticent or uncooperative bosses, clients, customers, co-workers and subordinates
  • Canceled projects—after the work’s done
  • Unreasonable or unclear deadlines
  • Unwieldy tools or equipment for which you have received little or inadequate training
  • Office politics
  • Occupational injuries

Burnout is a situational problem.

It is not an individual failing.

Most stresses leading to burnout are caused by organizational and environmental problems.

Some stresses can be changed; others cannot.

Many unchangeable ones can be borne if there are sufficiently significant rewards. These are the ones we accept as ‘part-and-parcel‘ of the job—but only when we’re paid for tolerating them.

What we need to do is distinguish between the ones we can solve and those we have to live with.

For stresses that can be changed, take action.

The more control we have on them and the more we can set our own limits, the less likely we are to burn out.

For problems that cannot be altered, cultivate support groups.

Gather sympathetic peers, use stress-reduction techniques, and extract pleasure or meaning from some aspects of your job viz. look on the bright side.

Take up problems that can be rectified with your manager.

Phrase the problem in a non-blaming and non-threatening manner. Suggest one or more solutions. Be involved in the solutions.

Be confrontational if your manager cannot be your buffer. You have to be firm and set boundaries and insist on the information required to do your work.

Avoid judging co-workers.

Express your appreciation of them at every available opportunity.

Ask for feedback; offer to give it.

Include a healthy dose of praise with diplomatic, constructive suggestions.

Allocate time in your busy schedule for rest, relaxation, recuperation and exercise. You are not a machine and neither are your colleagues.

Enjoy the inherent joy in your work; seek not just the extrinsic rewards.

Should you leave or stay?

If none of the above works, focus on your long-term goals.

They can help you quit when the time is right, by providing a vision of a happier future.

Finally, beware of overwork and the resultant occupational injuries it can bring. Seek medical help when needed. Remember, prevention is better than cure.

(Adapted from Chapter 18: Hazards of being a Tech Writer of Janet Van Wicklen’s Tech Writer’s Survival Guide)

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Mentoring

Sir Salman Rushdie

Sir Salman Rushdie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If mentors and mentees are too similar, there may be little value for mentees in terms of knowledge,awareness or capability due to the lack of ‘stretch’ in the relationship.

If mentors and mentees are too far apart,then there is a risk of scheme breakdown due to a lack of empathy, credibility and motivation in both directions.

Both mentor and mentee gain more from the relationship if the  mentee takes the initiative and if he or she expects developmental (as against directive) behaviours from the mentor.

The more passive the mentee and the more directive the mentor, the less successful the relationship.

Salman Rushdie writes:

Those who do not have the power of the story that dominates their lives—power to retell it, rethink it,deconstruct it,joke about it, and change it as times change—truly are powerless because they cannot think new thoughts.

Mentoring can help us explore our story, think new thoughts and realize a new future. Mentoring gives us an opportunity not to be condemned to repeat our pasts.

Mentoring is essentially a voluntary activity.

Mentoring is for the mentee.Attempts to impose agendas on the mentee result in manipulation and social engineering.

Mentors should reflect on their own ethical approach. References can be both external (e.g. a professional body) and internal (own values, situational ).

(Excerpted from Mentoring in Action—A Practical Guide (2nd Edition) [Chapter 1: The Mentoring Framework] by D Megginson,D Clutterbuck, B Garvey,P Stokes and R Garrett-Harris.)

 

Wikileaks or “Cablegate”: Thoughts in perspective

The latest Wikileaks or CableGate  revelations have left very few parts of the globe untouched.

The sheer volume of the dispatches leaked (made by American diplomats and members of their diplomatic corps) makes comment inevitable and at the same time nigh impossible.

The media storm raised here in India is about how the US has heaped scorn on India’s preparedness for launching a quick assault on Pakistan. The code-named “Cold Start” policy is a non-starter according to the (ugly) American.

I do not wish to comment on what India’s response should be.

What I would like to suggest is that we should be rational ,reasoned and measured in our approach to the stories that have surfaced and will surface over the next few days. If Wikileaks believe that their only motive was transparency, then they have to be disabused of that notion. This attempt of theirs smacks of bravado, fool-hardiness and an attempt to prove their credibility by discrediting their opponents. Yes, for some reason, America-bashing appears to be their favourite pastime. Not that it hasn’t been so everywhere else, but then that’s the kind of knee-jerk reaction Big Brother evokes.

India should not be unaware of this; whether we like it or not, we are a regional Big Brother to our South Asian neighbours. A lovable, cuddly one we would like to believe but to be truthful, there is no such thing in international politics.

Wikileaks  can be useful to provoke thought , more significantly thought translated into action. But everything should be taken with a pinch of salt!

We should be aware that cables by their nature are reactionary and informal. They are not reports air-brushed and put before one’s superiors after thorough analysis and fact-checking. They are spur-of-the-moment, coloured,shaped and hued by personalities, quirks and proximity  to significant events and persons. It is easy to be overwhelmed by calamity or catastrophe, even personal ones. No person is immune to being human.Would you like your private opinions and thoughts broadcast to members of the general public? How do you think that will make you appear?

Would you rather have the Americans and others (including India) rely on satellites and technology alone for intelligence gathering?

“A diplomat is a person who lies abroad for his country”. This statement makes no mention of lying to one’s nation, does it?

My life is my message.

Mahatma Gandhi

Source: http://quotes4all.net/quote_1181.html

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Web-services, SOA, BPM & Cloud Computing – XI

Business Process Reengineering Cycle

Image via Wikipedia

The term Business Process Management (BPM) has been buzzing around for quite a while.

What exactly is BPM?

Is it solely about technology?

Or is it more than that?

Yes, BPM is in vogue because the technology to model processes, simulate them, improve them, and maybe even improvise is available in a huge way.

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Great Leadership: Leadership Development: Executive Self-Assessment

What’s the #1 differentiator between companies that excel at succession planning and leadership development and those that simply “go through the motions”?It’s the ownership and commitment of the senior executive team. They believe in its strategic importance and treat it as a high priority. Without this, the typical reaction from every manager is likely to be “What’s the point? We go through the motions every year filling these forms out and nothing happens.”It not only becomes a demoralizing administrative time-waster, but when leadership positions need to be filled, we’re frustrated with the lack of qualified candidates. Of course, there’s also the frustration of our high potentials regarding lack of feedback, coaching, development opportunities, and any meaningful interest and involvement from their managers.The message is clear (pick one):1. Your development is not important to me; it’s not worth the expense or time.2. I don’t think you have the capacity to grow and change so why bother.3. You’re a manager – suck it up- you’re on your own when it comes to development.

Great Leadership: Leadership Development: Executive Self-Assessment

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Theory of Constraints

Theory of Constraints (TOC) gets its name from the fact that all enterprises are constrained by something. If they weren’t, they could grow as large and as fast as they wanted. But one has to monitor Wall Street or Main Street for only a moment to know that for the vast majority of enterprises growth is really hard. Constraints are why.

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Web-services, SOA, BPM & Cloud Computing – X

Chromium

Image via Wikipedia

Web-services, SOA, BPM & Cloud Computing – X

No series on cloud computing would be complete without alluding to Google’s audacious attempt at building an OS around the cloud computing paradigm.

Yes, I’m referring to the Google Chrome OS, a spin-off to the Google Chrome browser. The open source versions for the Chrome OS are the Chromium OS and the Chromium Browser respectively.

The Google Chrome OS

The Google Chrome OS is targeted specifically to netbooks, not the primary device of use, but a secondary, portable, lightweight device. The OS is small enough to be loaded on a USB drive and booted from the very same device. Applications on local storage are few and far between and most useful, user applications are based in the cloud. The user interface is minimalist much like the Chrome Browser. Boot time is very quick with Google software engineer Martin Bligh demonstrating a bootup time of four seconds.

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Great Leadership: Can Common Sense be Learned?

Can common sense be learned? Can you teach it to someone? Can you learn it from a course, book, coach, blog post, or some other method?First of all, it might help to agree on what is meant by the term “common sense”. Mirriam-Webster defines it as:Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.Most of us can know it when we see it. Probably more so, most of us have no problem at all pointing it out when it’s missing. We usually do this by saying something like, “Harold, what the hell were you thinking?!”

Great Leadership: Can Common Sense be Learned?

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