Topic 3 Reflective Practice
Do you think that EQ (or EI) is more important that IQ in the workplace? Explain your response. I encourage you to post your thoughts on this question in the Topic 3 Forum.
Review Cards for Chapter 4
The review card for this topic takes a look at what would make a job more satisfying for you. What can you do to make sure that you have enough job satisfaction to keep you motivated? What kinds of things are important to you?
An Ethical Dilemma …
Watch the following 3 minute interactive video which portrays the Heinz Dilemma – based on research done by Lawrence Kohlberg on the stages of moral development. You may need to replay the video a few times depending on the choices that you make. After watching the video consider the questions (which Kohlberg posed to his research subjects) that follow. As you reflect on your answers explore your rationale for your responses to the questions. This activity would make a great discussion in the Topic 3 Forum if you are so inclined.
1. Should Heinz have stolen the drug?
2. Would it change anything if Heinz did not love his wife?
3. What if the person dying was a stranger, would it make any difference?
4. Should the police arrest the chemist for murder if the woman died?
You will find an explanation of Kohlberg’s research and his model of moral development at http://www.simplypsychology.org/kohlberg.html
Topic 4: Stress and Wellbeing at Work – Notes
Introduction and Reading
Read Chapter 7 of your text – remember to look through the Chapter Review Card first and then again after reading the chapter
‘Stress has many interpretations and is one of the most ambiguous words in the English language.’ (p.99 in your textbook). In the same vein, the concept of wellbeing also has different meanings for different people. You might want to just stop for a moment and think about what you understand by the terms stress and wellbeing. And then go and ask someone else you know what they understand by these terms. Are there differences between your definitions and those of your colleague, friend or family member? What might account for these differences?
Your textbook looks at four different approaches to the stress response. These are:
1. Homeostatic/medical approach – this looks at the physiological response to stress caused by the production of adrenalin in your body in response to an external threat (Cannon, 1935) and what has become known as the fight-or-flight response (this could also include freezing as in when you are immobilised by fear). Stress occurs when the body moves away from its state of balance or calmness known as homeostasis (p.99 in your textbook). However, in human beings there is more than just a physiological response to stress and this led to other approaches being studied.
2. Cognitive appraisal approach – when we interact with our environment we have thoughts about it. How we interpret an event (cognitive appraisal) can change the way we respond to specific events, things or people (Lazarus, 1966). As we already know from Topic 2, perception is influenced by many different factors.
3. Person-environment fit approach – this looks at how conflicting role expectations of a person can create stress – this means when one group (or individual) expect you to do one thing and a different group (or individual) want you to do something else. You can probably all relate to this idea in your personal life. This person-environment fit also applies to the match between a person’s skills and capabilities and the role expectations (Katz and Kahn, 1978). When the role demands more of us than we are capable of giving then we are likely to experience stress. Can you think of any examples of this in your own life?
4. Psychoanalytic approach – this refers to a situation where there is a dissonance or discrepancy between our ideal-self (what we aspire to) and how we see ourselves right now (Levinson, 1978). The bigger the gap between what we aspire to and how we actually see ourselves can create stress and worry. A more commonplace way of describing this might be when we metaphorically “beat ourselves up” for not being as good as we hope to be. Quite often this comes from a limited perspective of who we are. The more self-aware we become and the more emotionally intelligent the less likely we are to suffer from this type of stress.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal takes an interesting approach to stress in the following TED Talk (14:29 minutes). While this is somewhat longer than most of the videos in this unit it is worth watching/listening to. Her research shows that if we think stress is bad for us we are more likely to become ill as a result of stress, whereas if we do not see stress as bad for us we do not seem to suffer harmful effects of stress. This talk, therefore, is about a cognitive response to stress. Make a note of your thoughts as you watch this video.
The best way to watch this video is probably on the TED website (http://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend) because you can access an interactive transcript and also Kelly McGonigal’s footnotes. However, the same video is also available on YouTube* and appears below. Click here for a copy of the transcript.
* Did you also know when watching videos on YouTube you can often turn on subtitles (if they have been prepared) by clicking on the CC icon (bottom right of the video window) or if you go to YouTube you can get the transcript by clicking on … More and then choosing Transcript. However, although it does give you the general gist of what is being said sometimes the machine-transcription is inaccurate and therefore you need to interpret what was intended.
Topic 4: Stress and Wellbeing at Work – Notes
Textbook Chapter 7 Summary Slides
Your textbook comes with a number a resources such as the chapter review cards which are all located at the back of the textbook. These cards contain a brief summary of the key concepts and vocabulary for each chapter. You are advised to read these before you read the related chapter and then again when you have finished reading.
Some of you may find the summary slides made available by the authors as instructor resources useful as you work your way through each chapter since these slides highlight the key concepts. If you want to take advantage of these materials then click on the relevant links below..
Click here to download a copy of the Chapter 7 Summary Slides.
There are a range of supplementary materials provided throughout the notes for each topic and you are encouraged to take advantage of these.
Stress is the internal feeling of unease and tension you get when you are confronted with one or more stressors. Stress has both physiological and emotional overtones that can have serious consequences for the individual. Different things will be stressors to different people and people will have different thresholds for the cumulative amount of stress they can endure before their behaviour becomes dysfunctional. Note the use of the term ‘cumulative’ in the previous sentence: exposure to stressors in small doses can actually energise and motivate our behaviour; however, it is the steady cumulative effects of many stressors impacting over time that wears us down. Some amount of stress and anxiety facilitates performance (e.g., being somewhat nervous about an impending examination may motivate better study which results in better performance). But after a certain point (the threshold), the effects of stress become debilitating and performance declines (excessive test anxiety may lead to mental confusion and inability to properly access memory during an exam resulting in poorer performance). One of the key things management should learn about the behaviour of workers is that no worker is so adaptable as to be considered immune from the effects of stress.
In this 2 minute video Dr Daniel Crosby gives an overview of what stress is and why paying attention to it at work is important: https://youtu.be/LUaxQCRXizc
Refer to the diagram below (from p.104 in your textbook). ee the textbook
Do you think there is an ideal level of stress? What does that feel (look or sound) like in your life? How do you know you have enough stress (eustress) but not too much (distress)?
Emotional labour is a term introduced in Chapter 4 of your text and in Topic 3 and is described as “the effort, planning and control needed to express organisationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions” (Ashforth and Humphrey,1998, cited in McShane et al, 2012, p.106). In Reading 3.2Leighton (2011) suggests that “emotion regulation (mostly in the form of surface acting) can lead to burnout and impact on job satisfaction, physical health, organisational commitment and intention to leave their organisation”. We might conclude from this that people who can regulate their emotions more effectively may be less prone to stress in the workplace. What do you think?
Leighton, C. (2011) Emotional Labour: Playing Nice in the Workplace. University of Western Australian News (online), 3 August, 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201108033781/research/emotion-labour-playing-nice-workplace
McShane, S.L., Olekalns, M., & Travaglione, T. (2012). Organisational behaviour: Emerging knowledge, global insights (4th edn.). McGraw Hill.
Wellbeing at Work
What causes wellness? A TEDx Glasgow talk by Sir Harry Burns.
Video Published on July 25, 2014
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. How can meaning and purpose contribute to one’s wellbeing? Sir Harry Burns explores the concept of salutogenesis and the impact it has on the most disadvantaged members of our community.
As the former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Principal Medical Adviser and Head of the Scottish Medical Civil Service, Sir Harry is dedicated to improving people’s health and social well being.
In 1994, he became Director of Public Health for Greater Glasgow Health board, a position he occupied until 2005. During this time, he continued research into the problems of social determinants of health, and later in 1998, was lead clinician in Scotland for cancer care. (Source: https://youtu.be/yEh3JG74C6s). Video notes sourced from the YouTube page https://youtu.be/yEh3JG74C6s.
What are your thoughts on this presentation? What strategies can you create in your own context to better regulate stress?
The following video discusses a different approach to dealing with workplace stress. It is presented by Mark Walsh of Integration Training and dicusses problems with stress, happiness and the modern workplace. The video is titled: Being human at work – workplace stress – The way we’re working isn’t working. https://youtu.be/ndcH-YyMsRo
Do you agree or disagree with Mark Walsh’s perspective? How might we improve the way we work so that we can decrease stress? What are the implications for the organisation and the employee? Are there tensions between organisational objectives and individual needs?
Topic 4 Workshop Activities
Caveat: the self-evaluation tools provided are intended as a guide only and as a catalyst for personal reflection, they are not intended to give an accurate assessment of your preferences or who you are.
Click here to download a copy of this page
The purpose of these workshop activities is to explore the concept of resilience based on the work of Dr Martin Seligman whose research informed his book Learned Optimism: how to change your mind and your life (1998).
There are a number of qualities and capabilities that relate to resilience and the following Resilience Test at http://www.psychometrictest.org.uk/resilience-test/ explores five of these: adaptability, self-control, self-sufficiency, optimism and persistence. In the preamble to this test it states that “Career resilience is more important than ever given the current job climate … it is vital to be able to keep up with changes or to accept difficulties when presented with a challenging situation. Resilience could in fact be considered a combination of strength and fluidity which allows an individual to adapt to new circumstances without compromising integrity.”
1. Do you think your scores accurately reflect how resilient you feel yourself to be at this stage in your life? Why/why not?
2. Share your results with another student (internal students in class and external students in the Workshop Activity Forum or the Workshop Activity Chat Room). In what ways do your results vary? Talk about your different experiences, then see if you can identify the strategies that cause you to be more/less resilient. What new strategies could you use to increase your resilience?
Do the Learned Optimism self-test at http://web.stanford.edu/class/msande271/onlinetools/LearnedOpt.html. This is based directly on Seligman’s (1998) work and scores you on a number of scales relating to the concepts of permanence, pervasiveness, hope and personalisation. As it states in the instructions to the test you may feel that some of the situations do not apply to you or you may feel that neither of the choices are relevant; in these cases answer in the way that would be more likely to reflect the way you would react or respond.
1. Once you have your scores how do you feel about them? Do you think that the overall Good minus Bad Score reflects the way you are? Were there some scores that you especially agreed or disagreed with?
2. Now review this short article created by Rod Matthews (www.rodmatthews.com) which explains in more detail the concepts of permanence, pervasiveness and personalisation. Does this change how you feel about the scores for the learned optimism test? In what ways?
3. Have a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of being optimistic and pessimistic. Think of some specific examples when it might be more advantageous/disadvantageous to be pessimistic and optimistic.
4. Do you know there is something called an optimism bias?
Task 3 (optional)
Exploring the optimism bias with Dr Tali Sharot. Watch this TED Talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/tali_sharot_the_optimism_bias (17 minutes).
1. What specific insights/thoughts/ideas stand out to you from this video?
2. Have a conversation with another person who knows you reasonably well (outside of class) and ask them if they see you as more optimistic or pessimistic. As them to explain their answer and to give you some examples. Do you agree with this person’s perception of you?
Topic 4 Reflective Practice
Read the Ch 7 Review Card. What key concepts stood out for you this week? Are there some areas of your life where you could increase your resilience to get a better outcome? What new skills might you need to develop to do this?
On the back of the Ch 7 Review Card there is a quick self-assessment for how stressed you are. Consider doing this assessment and then think about where and how you could take more control of things/situations so that you can optimise the level of stress (i.e. finding the happy medium) that you experience.
Search the internet to find an article or media (video file, you-tube post etc) of interest to you that discusses stress and its role in the workplace. Summarise the most important points that this article raises and post your findings in the Topic 4 Forum to share with the rest of the class.
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