Studies show that executives who cope well have three things in common:
- They have a sense of being in control of their lives.
- They are committed so their emotions are behind what they are doing — not just going through the motions, doing a job they don’t really like.
- They see what others perceive as a burden or a threat as a challenge.
It’s their perceptions that help these executives cope. What they believe and understand about their work makes a difference. One more thing: they have a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves.
However, as you travel down an organization’s hierarchy, stress increases. People perceive that they are less in control of their lives — other people are making decisions for them that they have no control over. Job stress costs industry $77 billion a year in lost productivity, absenteeism, mistakes, poor judgment, and more. Workers’ lack of hope may influence other lacks, perhaps in motivation, direction, flexibility, openness, trust, cooperation, reliability — oh, did I mention humor?
One reason why teamwork is important to productivity is that it can be a stress-reducer. When people feel a part of the decision-making process, they begin to pull together. They gain self-respect and pride in their group efforts and their individual contributions to the whole. As they become “owners” in the decision, the part of stress that comes from feeling like they are always at someone else’s mercy decreases. When people play a part in making a decision, they develop a commitment to seeing that it is carried out properly. But when decisions are only passed down, there isn’t ownership. It comes down to “I’d better do my job, or else.”
Teamwork improves everything. Recently, I read about a Texas rancher who hosted some city-slickers from Back East. They marveled at the richness of his land. “God certainly carved out a wonderful piece of His creation for you!” one exclaimed. “Naaah,” said the rancher, “you shoulda seen it before I decided to lend Him a hand!”
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