A huge number of people are having stress at the workplace. One of the prominent reasons for stress in most people’s opinion is workload! Are you also in agreement? My opinion is a little different. At the workplace, there are hardly 10% of people having stress due to workload. Rest 90% are culprits of their own mismanagement.
Stress Development Case#1
Last-minute demand from seniors for completion of any assignment or our own procrastination. The first point is not in our control but we can do better on the second point. Each action, whether of high importance or low importance, in general, has a good amount of time for preparation, but we ignore that precision time. And from here the development of stress start, now that important action becomes urgent.
Even many a time, seniors provide timely input for any assigned task, so that we could do better preparation. But we act late and at the last minute, we expect zero correction from seniors on our hurried work. Do you think that we can skip this important phase of correction after their final review? Now stress gets multiplied in such situations because we have to correct our work based on senior’s feedback and we are also running out of time.
Stress Development Case#2
Mostly each person is having some periodic assignments, for which they need to take regular action. Periodic frequency can be weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly. Senior think that you are doing well on your given responsibilities. But you only know the reality! For your monthly assignment, you have done nothing for the last 3 months and nobody has bothered you for that. Suddenly audit of your work is planned, now you have no other choice but to stretch yourself to finish your pending logs.
As of now, you are totally focused on this periodic assignment, so your routine tasks are also getting affected. The consequence! Work stress gets multiplied.
What is Required to Avoid Stress
We can manage each and every work stress efficiently. It requires mostly only one skill i.e. discipline. If you are disciplined to yourself, you can make your life stress-free. The discipline leads to proactive behavior for performing any task.
For me, being proactive means: If you are performing more than 50% of your daily tasks as an initiator, then you are good at proactiveness. The higher the percentage, the better will be the results. If most of your work is being directed by some other person (your superiors or generated by crises), then you need improvement on this.
Type of Tasks
For any work profession, irrespective of the level, a set of tasks are generally fixed. For example, if you are a supervisor managing work in the production area, so broadly you are dealing with the frontline team. Your job is to assign work, managing the resources and resolving the issues that arise during execution, etc.
On another side, if you’re heading a department, then your main responsibility is to ensure the smooth functioning of the complete department. Team development, coordination with other departments, processing of work based on input from various functions and then providing output to some other functions. For example, if you are heading the design department, then input from customers, design codes, customer specifications are your main input to process the work.
If you are heading a unit, then also the majority of the time, you need to ensure the smooth functioning of all the departments. Your most of the time is being spent in meetings with various department, decision making, monitoring & reviewing the work of the whole unit.
So overall, point is that we at any workplace have a fixed set of responsibilities. Of course, there may be 10-15 percentage variation in your core work, but generally, a big percentage is routine.
Now in any role, not all the tasks are critical and requiring your 100 % focus. Basically, 20-25 % of your work requires 75-80 % of your time. Balance 75-80 % work, you can effectively manage with 20-25 % of your available time. Now let’s understand how we can avoid stress with respect to the above examples.
In the first example as a supervisor, if you are having 10-20 tasks to perform in your working time, then identify the most critical ones. Percentage of those critical tasks with respect to total tasks will fall in the range of 20-25%, not beyond that. This means if you spend 75-80 % of your time on these critical tasks, you are done. At the same time balance 75-80 % of the work can be easily managed with your 20-25 % of the time. But if you run behind all your tasks to spend equal time then, you are inviting stress.
If you spend less time on the critical tasks, then you may face rework on them. If rework comes into the picture, now you need extra time to manage that rework. This further squeezes your available time for non-critical tasks. Now as you are hardly providing your time on non-critical tasks, without any focus those non-routine tasks become critical.
At this point of time, you feel that each and every task requires equal focus, otherwise, a non-critical task also becomes critical. But this is not the reality if you really look deeply. Your life will at ease if you quickly segregate critical and non-critical tasks at the beginning of work. Then provide more time on critical tasks and less time on non-critical tasks.
In the second example as a department head, identify the critical task of your department. Critical mean, if they are not dealt with due diligence, they will spoil department name and doubt on its effective functioning. If you try to give equal time to all the department functions, then again you are inviting stress. The same is true for your team development. Not all your team member requires an equal amount of time for their development, some may require very little time, some may require more. You need to allocate your time accordingly. There is no need to provide equal time to each team member.
In the third example as a Unit head, you need to provide more focus on those departments, whose ineffectiveness can trouble the whole unit. Lack of order inflow, rework in the production area, poor design or planning leading to delay in execution, etc. You need to identify the critical functions of your unit and need to provide more time to focus on these departments. I am not saying to ignore other necessary departments, what I am saying is your less time will be sufficient to ensure smooth functioning of those departments.
Many a time in our professional life, we remember the person, the department that is having regular issues and resolving them by taking a good amount of management time. We ignore the silent performers i.e. people & departments, which have placed various strategies for smooth and effective functioning. These people and departments are saving a lot of management time. Ultimately time is the most precious asset for management, so they must consider this aspect while reviewing the performance of all the departments.
“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.” —Mikhail Lermontov