Team Stress - Cost, Cause, and Cure
In 1990 the revolutionary and $70 million Hubble Space Telescope began its journey into space. Unfortunately, all was not well as the mirror on the massive telescope was not properly ground causing NASA to receive distorted images of stars. Repair costs were astronomical. Back here on earth, costs due to stress are causing monetary losses of stellar proportions. According to one source, work place stress carries a price tag of $300B. Unanticipated absence due to stress is $602.00 per employee annually. Individually, health costs due to stress can send a personal budget into a black hole, sometimes never achieving recovery. The old saying, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything” still rings true. Good health is a priceless commodity.
Causes for stress could probably fill the universe. In addition, what might be stressful to one person may not affect another in the least. This point serves to emphasize the value of knowing yourself and for managers to know their employees’ talents and skills. This helps avoid the stress of being in the wrong job.
New discoveries are frequently made about space and so it is with stress as well. A relatively newcomer on the list of stress causing concerns comes from a recent study involving loss of job status. Loss of job status is more about losing valued job features, how management is treating you, loss of decision making privileges, and the correct use of one’s talent and skills.
Hi-tech teams have their own brand of stress due to long days, overload, and the insistent drive for innovation. Just as the planets experience the conflict of gravity and crashing into each other, hi-tech teams experience location and multi-cultural differences. Of course, even workers of the same cultural background can experience stressful conflict. People even experience me/me conflict due to their own conflicting behavioral differences.
Just as planets and their moons hang in space with their symbiotic relationships, so must each worker have a mutually beneficial relationship with his or her job. This is best accomplished by hiring the best match for a position. This is a strategy that can not only reduce stress, it can boost productivity, and help ensure long term success.
Reducing stress in teams from different worlds or multi-cultural teams takes a lot of hard work. A cheat sheet on communication styles, or a two-hour training program on appreciating our differences just won’t cut it. It takes a long time to develop relationships and build trust. Having fewer people in meetings can help the introverts or “shy” cultures to speak up more. Being consistent at understanding and working with differences is worth the effort. Just wait ‘til the aliens from other planets join our workforce!
Having teams take behavioral and communication assessments and debriefing them in a group can help build and bond teams. Understanding one another’s communication styles can reduce stress, conflict, and increase productivity. Now that’s a universal goal.
Anonymous. (n.d.). Workplace Stress. The American Institute of Stress.
Ellis, A.P.J., (2006, June). System Breakdown: The Role of Mental Models and Transactive Memory in the Relationship Between Acute Stress and Team Performance. Vol. 49 Issue 3, p576-589. Retrieved from DeKalb County Online Library
Gallie, D. & Felstead, A. (2017). The Hidden Face of Job Insecurity. Work, Employment, and Society. Vol. 31(1) p36-53.
Pines, A.M. & Zaidman, N. (2014, October). Stress and Burnout in Bicultural Teams in Hi-tech Industry [sic]. Vol. 25 Issue 4, p819-832. Retrieved from DeKalb County Online Library
Sheng, E. (2016, January). How to Manage Cultural Differences in Global Teams. FastCompany.com
Graphic Credit: BigStock.com Copyright: LightField Studios