Stress, as defined by Profiles for People, is the result of differences between what is situationally ideal and what is situationally real. Some stress may be desirable and natural to provide a stimulus to eliminate or minimise the gap between real and ideal – but continuous exposure to stressful conditions harms the person and hampers organisational performance.
Stress tends to result when a person:
- is prevented from pursuing personal interests
- is required to take part in activities that are unattractive (as judged by the person affected)
- is unable to structure his or her time for personal satisfaction
- cannot work at a pace that suits them
- is not given the rewards or recognition they need
- is not confident about their own competence to perform
- is unable to think, decide or communicate effectively
- uses an ineffective approach to influence other people
- does not have the inner personal strength to handle adversity
- lacks an orderly approach in a structured environment
- has a rigid approach in a fluid environment
- works in a group that breaks down or does not achieve results
- is not allowed, or is unable, to contribute to a group’s process
- is unable to recognise or rationalise the differences between personal ideals and the reality of the majority.
Not surprisingly, there is plenty of opportunity for stress to occur in all organisations. Today, stress seems to be a “fact of life” – and perhaps it always was.