Organizational Change & Stress
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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
- Sense of direction and control
- 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
Managing Work-Related Stress
- Protect your health: notice and respond to stress warning signs
- Focus attention on what you can control
- Limit setting: saying "no"
- Healthy lifestyle habits: good diet, adequate sleep, exercise
- Avoid excessive overworking: separate work and home
- Maintain sense of humor
- Protect and use rest periods
- Keep up interests outside of work
- Develop and maintain supportive relationships
Damage Control for Work Relationships During Organizational Change
- Use reflective listening and check understandings with others. Take sufficient time with verbal interactions
- Choose the right time and place for settling a dispute with someone
- Ask for information and disseminate information about changes
- Exit from non-productive conversations involving complaints or rumors which are draining, anxiety-provoking or depressing
- Disengage from destructive, escalating arguments. Reschedule the discussion.
- Acknowledge and accept our own and others' emotional reactions to change and adjust our expectations accordingly
- Remember your sense of humor
- Apologize after making a mistake that affects someone negatively
- Help and encourage those around you
- In direct and respectful ways, ask for what you need, express feelings, and attempt to resolve conflicts
- Consider taking the first step to resolve a long-standing conflict with another
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