Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Utility of Stress


Having stress is not really a problem as long as you know how to cope with it. In fact, stress up to a point is useful for two reasons. Firstly, it makes you productive. If you have no stress, you may produce nothing. For example, you decide to write a letter to your father whom you haven’s written for two months. On a Sunday morning, you decide to do it. But obviously that’s the day you can read your newspaper from the beginning to end. By the time you finish your newspapers and breakfast, it is time to see favorite TV serial. After that, comes the time for lunch. After lunch you have the legitimate weekly siesta. When you get up, the evening movie has started. By the time it is finished, you have your dinner and you are already sleepy-although you have slept quiet a bit during the day. Then you will say, ‘ I shall write next Sunday’. Thus, in spite of having sixteen hours, you can’t write a single letter. But if you are under stress, you can write sixteen letters in one hour. Thus, stress is very important to increase your productivity. As the stress increases, your productivity goes up- up to a point; then it flattens off. Thereafter you do not get any more productivity with additional stress. At a certain point further up (which we can call the break-down point), any additional stress brings down your productivity very sharply. Instead of working, you start worrying about work. This is where the stress has to be managed.
Another aspect of stress is that if you get accustomed to a certain level of stress, you are uncomfortable either above or below that level. Many of my friend’s wives had fairly hard life is bringing up their children. When the children got married and went away and the husband started having only one meal a day, the household task suddenly got so reduced that the housewife started having complaints like slipped disc, spondilitis, etc.-because there was suddenly no stress! Then came the daughter for her delivery. Immediately all ailments vanished. The grandmother was very active. After the grandchild was born, for the next four months, she went through a lot of hardships-but she was as healthy as ever before. After four months, the daughter goes away with the grandchild and all the ailments return to the grandmother.
Thus, stress reduced below a certain level can also be a problem. So in managing stress, we don’t always reduce stress, but keep stress within the limits to make the stress both comfortable and productive.
To succeed in his career, a manager has to change his method of working depending on his level of operation in the organization.
At the junior most level, hard working is vital. A person working long hours whenever required-sometimes round the clock-makes a very favorable impression and stands out amongst the crowd which is invariably thick at the junior most level. However, as he comes to the middle level, he may get into the organizational paradox: the one, who works more, gets more and more work. And he may get caught in a situation where his plate is always overfull and he finds increasingly difficult to meet deadlines.
At this stage, smart working is important. He must concentrate on effective work i.e. that work which contributes significantly to the organization-as against just routine work. This makes him more and more visible to the top management. Simultaneously, he must learn to delegate the routine tasks to his subordinates-and even to his colleagues.
This need for delegation will increase as he goes further up in the organization. To ensure that he can delegate some of the work and get collaboration and cooperation from his colleagues (and support from the boss or bosses for such delegation), he needs networking.
Thus for organizational success, a manager has to progress through hardworking and smartworking into networking.
Managing the social impact of the organization is the most complex task of the management. It is dependent of the management’s ability to ‘think through’ the total effectiveness of the organization. An organization can be seen as an effective organization essentially at three levels.
· Firstly, the organization is productive i.e., it is able to produce the goods or services it is indented to produce.
· Secondly, the organization is efficient i.e. it produces the goods or services with a minimum expenditure of resources – particularly the scarce resources, and
· Thirdly, the organization has reputation for excellence i.e., it has a public image that its goods or services are of a high quality and its management is alert to its responsibilities within and without the organization.
Every large organization has a number of active feuds. Some of them are generic feuds others are personal feuds. Generic feuds are a result of traditional rivalry, e.g. marketing vs production, production vs purchasing, accounts vs engineering, head office vs factory or branch office, etc. Added to these are the conflicts generated by ambitious and jalousies of individual managers. Excessive compartmentalization, characteristic of large organizations, often accentuates the generic feuds and managers from different departments act as if they belonged to different organizations. Recently, I met a marketing manager. Normally he a morose person. But that day he looked jubilant. ‘What makes you so happy today?’ I asked, ‘Well, you know’ he replied, ‘our factory boiler has burst and they are screwed up for the next two months.’ He was already enjoying the nasty memos he would be sending to complain about lack of dispatches and consequent loss of sales.

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