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Riggio Defines Worker Stress Assignment

Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 9 Worker Stress and Negative Employee Attitudes and Behaviors"— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 9 Worker Stress and Negative Employee Attitudes and Behaviors
Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology by Ronald E. Riggio

2 Defining Worker Stress
A stressor is an environmental event that is perceived by an individual to be threatening.Worker stress involves the physiological and/or psychological reactions to events that are perceived to be threatening or taxing.Negative stress (or distress) can cause stress-related illness and can affect absenteeism, turnover, and work performance.

3 Sources of Worker Stress
Situational stress is stress arising from certain conditions that exist in the work environment or the worker’s personal life.Stressful occupations include air traffic controller, health care provider, police officer, and firefighter.Characteristics of jobs related to worker stress include heavy workload, poor working conditions, physical dangers, and dealing with difficult clients and coworkers.

4 Sources of Worker Stress
Organizational sources of worker stress include work task stressors, such as:Work overload, which results when a job requires excessive speed, output, or concentration.Underutilization, resulting from workers feeling that their knowledge, skills, or energy are not being fully used.

5 Sources of Worker Stress
Organizational sources of worker stress include work role stressors, such as:Job ambiguity, which results from a lack of clearly defined jobs and/or work tasks.Lack of control, a feeling of having little input or effect on the job and/or work environment.Physical work conditions, including extreme temperatures, loud/distracting noises, crowding, poor lighting and ventilation.Interpersonal stress, which results from difficulties dealing with others (coworkers, customers, supervisors) in the workplace.

6 Sources of Worker Stress
Organizational sources of worker stress include work role stressors, such as:Emotional labor, which involves the demands of regulating and controlling emotions in the workplace.Harassment, including sexual harassment, harassment due to group membership (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation), and being singled out by a coworker or supervisor.Organizational change, including mergers, changes in work technology, and personnel/managerial changesWork-family conflict, which results from efforts to balance competing demands of work and family.


8 Sources of Worker Stress
Individual (dispositional) sources of work stress include:The Type A behavior pattern, a personality characterized by excessive drive, competitiveness, impatience, and hostility.Susceptibility to stress vs. hardiness, the notion that some people may be more resistant to the health-damaging effects of stress.Self-efficacy, an individual’s beliefs in his/her abilities to engage in courses of action that will lead to desired outcomes.


10 Measurement of Worker Stress
Physiological measures of stress include blood pressure monitoring, EKGs for heart rate, or blood tests for stress-linked hormones (cortisol) and cholesterol.Difficulties with such measures include variation of such physiological processes within each person throughout the day and variation between individuals.Medical personnel are needed to administer such measures.

11 Measurement of Worker Stress
Self-report assessments of stress include reports about organizational conditions and reports about psychological and/or physical states.Reports on organizational conditions involve questions about job autonomy, feedback, task identity, task significance, skill variety, workload, etc.Self-report measures of psychological /physical stress include the Stress Diagnostic Survey, the Occupational Stress Indicator, and the Job Stress Survey.

12 Measurement of Worker Stress
Measurement of stressful life events involves self-reports of significant events in a person’s recent history that can cause stress.One measure is the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, a checklist where individuals total the numerical “stress severity” scores associated with significant life events experienced in the past year.Research suggests that persons with high personal stress indexes perform more poorly, have higher absenteeism, and change jobs more frequently (Bhagat, 1983).


14 Measurement of Worker Stress
Person-environment fit (P-E fit) refers to the match between a worker’s abilities, needs, and values, and organizational demands, rewards, and values.P-E fit is positively related to organizational commitment and negatively related to turnover (Hult, 2005).Measurement of P-E fit involves assessing worker skills and abilities, along with job demands and features of the work environment.

15 Effects of Worker Stress
Stress-related illnesses include ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and migraine headaches. Stress can also worsen common colds and infections.The relationship between stress and performance is complex, and generally is curvilinear (involving an inverted U), where both very low and very high stress are associated with poor performance.


17 Effects of Worker Stress
Job burnout is a syndrome resulting from prolonged exposure to work stress that leads to withdrawal from the organization.Burnout is especially high in human service professions.Burnout occurs in three phases:Emotional exhaustionDepersonalizationFeelings of low personal accomplishment


19 Coping with Worker Stress
Individual coping strategies are techniques such as exercise, meditation, or cognitive restructuring that can be used to deal with work stress.More efficient work methods, including time management, may also be used, although their success depends on individual commitment.Vacation time and voluntary absences may also be used to reduce stress, although missed work may increase stress upon the employee’s return to work.

20 Coping with Worker Stress
Organizational coping strategies are techniques that organizations can use to reduce stress for all or most employees.Organizational strategies include: improving person-job fit and employee training and orientation; increase employees’ sense of control; eliminating punitive management; removing hazardous work conditions; providing a supportive work environment; and improving organizational communication.

21 Negative Employee Attitudes and Behaviors
Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are deviant, negative behaviors that are harmful to an organization and its workers.Meta-analyses suggest that CWBs are more prevalent in younger employees and those with lower job satisfaction (Lau et. al., 2003).CWBs, and workplace aggression and violence, are linked to trait negative affectivity, anger, and other personality variables (Douglas and Martinko, 2001).The incidence of CWBs is negatively related to the incidence of organizational citizenship behaviors (Dalal, 2005).

22 Negative Employee Attitudes and Behaviors
Alcohol and drug use in the workplace is related to workplace accidents, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and turnover; it costs billions of dollars annually.Workers who report problems with alcohol or drugs have greater job instability and lower job satisfaction.Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) involve counseling that is provided for a variety of worker problems, particularly drug and alcohol abuse.

Awaken, Align, Accelerate (2011) is a leadership development and coaching guide from MDA Leadership Consulting. The book harnesses “the art and science of developing leaders into a unique collection of self-assessments, development suggestions, case studies, sample leadership development plans, coaching recommendations, and cross-cultural coaching tips” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 1).

MDA Leadership’s Awaken, Align, Accelerate is a big book. But once you flip through its brawny pages and are able to easily spot valuable information on each page (thanks to the great use of colors, bullets, and charts), I think you’ll agree that the book’s hefty size is an advantage. I actually appreciate its large size.

The overall layout (i.e., visuals, colors, graphics, tables, and charts), especially the use of colors to call out specific sections/areas on each page, is praiseworthy as it really helps to visually direct your eyes to important or interesting areas. For example, the tabs are nicely colored in blue so you can easily tell which competency you’re on and, on the back page (of each blue tab/competency), you’ll notice a gray tab which is the leadership factor that encompasses the competency.

“This guide focuses attention on what it takes to develop senior leaders, those who have responsibility for multiple teams inside a function (e.g., sales, marketing, finance) or an entire business within an organization. Additionally, we’ve designed this guide to be used by managers aspiring upward or even more senior executives facing similar challenges.” -Introduction of Awaken, Align, Accelerate

According to MDA Leadership, the book is the collaborative effort of 21 authors, most with over 25 years of leadership development experience, and was reviewed by over 60 colleagues who provided valuable insight. It includes almost 2,000 development and coaching suggestions, real-life case studies, and pragmatic development tools.

The Awaken, Align, Accelerate book is divided into six sections to match the six leadership factors of MDA’s Leadership Competency Model (Leading People, Thinking and Deciding, Achieving, Relating to People, Managing Work, and Managing Self). Each section (or factor) is further divided into a set of competencies that correspond to that particular factor. The core of the Awaken, Align, Accelerate book is divided into 16 chapters, one chapter for each of the 16 competencies in MDA’s Leadership Competency Model. Each chapter includes a self-assessment, development suggestions, and coaching suggestions.

LEADING PEOPLE (leadership factor #1)

1. Leading Courageously (competency)
2. Creating Alignment (competency)
3. Team Leadership (competency)
4. Developing Leaders (competency)

THINKING AND DECIDING (leadership factor #2)

5. Strategic Thinking (competency)
6. Business Acumen (competency)
7. Critical Thinking and Judgment (competency)

ACHIEVING (leadership factor #3)

8. Drive for Results (competency)
9. Innovation and Risk-Taking (competency)

RELATING TO PEOPLE (leadership factor #4)

10. Interpersonal Effectiveness (competency)
11. Building Collaboration (competency)

MANAGING WORK (leadership factor #5)

12. Planning and Organizing (competency)
13. Managing Execution (competency)

MANAGING SELF (leadership factor #6)

14. Resilience (competency)
15. Integrity (competency)
16. Learning Orientation (competency)

For each of the 16 competencies, there’s a nice description of each competency, a graphic indicating which of the 6 leadership factors covers that specific competency, and the 5 core practices that are contained within that particular competency.

Here’s how the Leading Courageously competency looks:

Leading Courageously [definition]: Successful organizations need courageous leaders at every level who display confidence and skill in the use of leadership, power, and authority. They assume responsibility for tackling tough assignments and pursue difficult challenges. Courageous leaders are assertive and appropriately tough-minded without being insensitive. They take initiative, act with independence, and demonstrate strength of conviction in pursuing their leadership agendas. They shape the thinking of others and actively influence upwards and across the organization.

FACTOR: Leading People
COMPETENCY: Leading Courageously
CORE PRACTICE: Authority, Courage, Assertiveness, Independence, Influence

In my opinion, what makes Awaken, Align, Accelerate stand head and shoulders above the rest are the following features:

* Leadership Levels Matrix – it illustrates how leaders (front-line managers, function leaders, and senior executives) at different levels vary by core practice.

* Self-Assessment – evaluates individual development needs, strengths or excessively used core practice behaviors.

* Development Suggestions – development tips for each core practice and sub-grouped by Awaken potential, Align goals, and Accelerate development framework. After completing the self-assessment, leaders are encouraged to focus on suggestions that correspond to the core practice s/he identified as a development need or excessive use.

* Coaching Suggestions – coaching tips for two different behaviors under each core practice grouped by Awaken, Align, Accelerate framework.

* Case Study / Development Plan / Coaching Plan – a real-life case study leading to a sample development plan and coaching plan.

The first thing I like in Awaken, Align, Accelerate is the use of a Leadership Levels Matrix (shown above) “a chart that shows how key leadership skills play out at the manager, function leader, and senior executive levels of the pipeline” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 7). This chart/matrix illustrates how leaders at different levels (managers, function leaders, senior executives) vary by core practice. Let’s take a closer look.

For the Business Acumen competency and the Operating Models core practice, we can see “How Leaders at Different Levels Use Business Acumen” (see figure above). For front-line managers, it’s about recognizing how their areas of responsibility contribute to the bottom line. For function leaders, it’s about knowing the organization’s business model and how it operates. And for the senior executives, it’s about enhancing and evolving business models that fuel profitable growth.

As MDA Leadership explains: “Success looks different at different leadership levels [and] successful transitions to a new level [of leadership] involves developing the right skills and behaviors. . . . To successfully navigate from one level to the next, leaders need to understand the behavior differences and develop strategies for closing the gap” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 6).


Similar to Korn/Ferry’s FYI book, MDA Leadership’s Awaken, Align, Accelerate book features “Development Suggestions” (shown above) which are development tips. Development Suggestions are provided for each core practice and sub-grouped by Awaken potential, Align goals, and Accelerate development framework. After completing the self-assessment, leaders are encouraged to focus on suggestions that correspond to the core practice s/he identified as a development need or excessive use. In the example shown above, we see Development Suggestions for the Empowerment core practice of the Team Leadership competency.

Another thing I like is the Coaching Others section for each competency. Here, the Awaken, Align, Accelerate book really shines as it demonstrates how to coach others. Indeed, the Introduction page of the book states: “Developing yourself and coaching others are the central themes of this guide” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 1). In the example shown above, we see Coaching Suggestions for the Utilization core practice of the Team Leadership competency.

Finally, MDA Leadership uses an IMPACT Coaching Steps process (shown above) that is mapped to their Awaken, Align, Accelerate framework. Using a pneumonic in the word IMPACT (Increase INSIGHT, MOTIVATE change, PLAN goals, ALIGN expectations, CREATE teachable moments, TRACK progress), MDA Leadership paired two coaching steps for each phase of their Awaken, Align, Accelerate framework.

Mapping the IMPACT Coaching Steps onto each phase of the Awaken, Align, Accelerate framework is a brilliant move as it ties the coaching process with MDA Leadership’s three-phase (Awaken, Align, Accelerate) model. It shows that there’s been a great deal of thought behind both the overall framework/model as well as the tactical tools and tips shared throughout the book.

MDA Leadership’s approach to leadership development is built on the interaction of three concepts (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011):

1. Talent Pipeline – an overarching context to understanding the leadership requirement at different levels within an organization. A talent pipeline illustrates the skills, knowledge, and values needed in leadership across levels of any organizations. To successfully navigate from one level to the next, leaders need to understand the behavior differences and develop strategies for closing the gap (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011).

2. Leadership Competency Model – a model for defining the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required across different levels of leadership. Although many organizations have defined cascading leadership models, few have integrated their models with the pipeline context in as much detail as MDA Leadership presented in the Awaken, Align, Accelerate book (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011).

3. Awaken, Align, Accelerate – a simple but elegant framework to help leaders develop themselves and coach others (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011).

The Awaken, Align, Accelerate Framework

“The Awaken, Align, Accelerate framework represents three crucial phases in a leader’s growth. Each phase is critical for meaningful and sustained development to occur. Leaders cycle through these phases each time they experience new insights, practices, and results at different levels of the talent pipeline” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 11).

  • Awaken leaders to growth opportunities and build awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Align their skills and experiences with the priorities and needs of the business.
  • Accelerate their ability to take on new responsibilities and deliver superior results.

Phase 1: Awaken Your Potential

“The Awaken phase is about helping leaders understand their impact through honest assessment. It combines taking stock of their current strengths and development opportunities as well as identifying what they want to achieve. . . . [L]eaders gain increased awareness about their leadership style, skills, and values. They also learn how their behavior affects others as well as their own performance and results. . . . The Awaken phase can give leaders a comprehensive understanding of how others perceive them and how they see themselves” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 12).

Phase 2: Align Your Goals

“The Align phase is the intersection between a leader’s personal development goals and the business agenda–what the organization needs from that leader to deliver strong results today and into the future. By understanding the business context for the leader’s development goals and aligning them with business outcomes, both the leader and the organization are positioned to deliver stronger results and achieve greater potential” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 13).

Phase 3: Accelerate Your Performance

“The Accelerate phase [is about] designing and deploying intentional development strategies that help enhance leadership performance on the most vital priorities. It leverages outcomes from the Awaken and Align phases, focusing development efforts on what is most critical. This phase is about executing the plan to ensure development actually happens through seeking new experiences, gaining additional knowledge, and practicing key leadership skills and behaviors. The Accelerate phase is the how and when of development” (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011, p. 13).

Takeaway:Awaken, Align, Accelerate is an impressive body of work from consultants at MDA Leadership. No book review (including this one) can do it justice simply because of the depth and breadth of its content. This is not a book you can read and put away, especially since it’s a reference guide. Instead, you turn to it, time and time again, as a useful leadership and coaching reference. This incredible book is helpful to: (1) leaders who want to develop themselves and coach others, (2) coaches who will benefit from its suggestions and tips, and (3) human resources professionals exploring a leadership model & competencies. MDA Leadership’s Awaken, Align, Accelerate now occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf. It’s an invaluable leadership and coaching guide. The beautiful layout of the book (great use of colors, white space, bullets, tables, and charts), the manageable set of 16 leadership competencies with clear descriptions, the use of a Leadership Levels Matrix for each competency, the Coaching Others section for each competency, and the Case Study / Development Plan / Coaching Plan for each competency all combine to propel MDA Leadership’s Awaken, Align, Accelerate to the top of my “Highly Recommended List” – earning my absolute highest recommendation!

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership + Talent Development Advisor


Nelson, S. E., & Ortmeier, J. G. (2011). Awaken, Align, Accelerate: A Guide to Great Leadership. Edina, MN: Beaver’s Pond Press, Inc.

Disclosure: I purchased Awaken, Align, Accelerate: A Guide to Great Leadership on my own.

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