Four Stages
Key Strategies
Practicing Safe Stress
Top 10 Stress Tips
High Stakes Audition
Listening, Learning and Leading
The Four P Principles
Four Faces of Anger
Humor and the Work Team
The Art of Practicing Safe Stress
Post-Enron Reorganization
Team-Building Process

Practicing Organizational Safe Stress in Trying Times

Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc" ™

Today's 24/7, "do more with less" downsizing economy definitely uploads workplace stress and conflict. Some of the consequences of an over stretched and over stressed environment include reduced performance, increased absenteeism, rising health, disability and grievance claims along with a potential for burnout and workplace violence. Clearly, business as usual is not an acceptable Human Resources response to these productivity- and morale-busting conditions.

A purposeful and "out of the box" management strategy involving all personnel levels is critical if the organization is to survive and thrive in these uncertain and rapidly changing times. Management needs to recognize employees as vital resources, providing motivational support and learning tools for strengthening both employee commitment and performance as well as team communication and decision-making. The big challenge in an increasingly complex business-government world: to create a hi-tech and hi-touch workforce. Here are three key strategies, structures and skills for helping your employees and the organization as a whole Practice Safe Stress:

1. Soothe Wounds, Rebuild Cohesion. Issues of loss are common during stressful contraction and restructuring, for example, the loss of familiar practices and procedures accompanied by a loss of control and performance anxiety; the loss of colleagues, often senior leaders - formal or informal - with a sense of company history, along with budget and program reductions. Perhaps most upsetting are the tandem beliefs that one's role or mission has been devalued and one's increasing mistrust of company management. As an employee derailed from her management fast-track by a reorganization bemoaned: "I once had a career path…Then this boulder fell from the sky and crushed it!"

Interactive Stress & Conflict Management/Team Building workshops are critical for bringing staff and organizational units together to discuss, vent, even, grieve the transitional trauma. In addition, such programs demonstrate that HR/Management recognizes the depth of the workplace disruption. Actively listening to employee pain and the appropriate expression of anger followed by such activities, as brainstorming discussion, creative role-play and participatory problem solving is how you rebuild workforce energy, commitment and trust. And, clearly, the leader of such a dynamic workshop must be adept in a variety of psychological, interpersonal and group training skills in order to create a safe climate for constructive engagement. Selecting the right fit consultant or training team is a critical HR function.

2. Renew Mission and Team Goals. Once you've stopped the re-organizational hemorrhaging, replace management by crisis with proactive leadership and consensus building. In team building sessions or staff meetings, encourage teams and departments to assess and/or redefine the organization-department mission and vision. Also, barriers to productivity and morale need to be delineated; performance goals and action steps with achievable time lines must be outlined.

As with the healing workshop, the team building process often benefits from an outside consultant/facilitator seen by employees as both knowledgeable and objective. Key rebuilding tasks include: a) honestly examining the strengths and vulnerabilities of past operational procedures, b) planning to help rebuild individual and collective identity and pride, c) recommitting to a collaborative method of conflict resolution to generate a diverse, participatory team focus and d) exploring new options for problem-solving and opportunities for tapping underutilized talents and resources amongst your workforce.

3. Sustain the Positive Change. Clearly, surviving a disruptive reorganization does not happen by waving a one-shot motivational/magical wand. Sustaining productivity and morale requires a continuous operation of positive procedures and policies. Consider these two acronyms:

a) The Triple A. The basic formula for runaway job stress is simple: a work situation having high demand and/or high professional responsibility paired with little authority or low control over work processes and outcomes. A heavy workload isn't the automatic culprit. People can thrive on a reasonably high volume of work if they have some impact on timing, scheduling and workflow. So consider "The 'Triple A' of Professional/Organizational Responsibility." Management must encourage reasonable "Authority" and "Autonomy" in employee thought and action. Employees must understand that "Accountability" to the mission and effective/ethical management practices support autonomy and credibility. And a mutually backed "Triple A" is both a commitment to your workforce and to quality products and service delivery to your customers and clients.

b) Establish Organizational IRAs. When employees are embracing the mission and meeting buy-in goals, they have earned those IRAs: Incentives, Rewards and Advancement opportunities. From merit bonuses and promotions to training opportunities and conference attendance, management truly has tools to keep employee hearts and minds dynamic and growth-oriented. And remember, the greatest human desire is to feel important.

In closing, when HR and the right training/consulting professionals are partners stressful energy will be transformed into team synergy. By healing wounds, rebuilding mission and group goals through consensus, and by rewarding positive performance rejuvenated employees will enable your company to both meet the challenges and beat the expectations of these demanding and exciting times. And you and your troops will...Practice Safe Stress!

Organizational Burnout Smoke Signals

A passionate letter from a reader highlights a key issue: does one attribute burnout to self-defeating mindsets and behavior patterns or to dysfunctional work environments? Of course, invariably both are involved. My response both provides some strategic suggestions for the reader and scrutinizes environmental conditions that foster the erosive spiral.

Dear Stress Doc:

I read your article on "The Four Stages of Burnout." I am clearly suffering from all stages. I do have a comment to make on the article. I am really tired of the personal qualities of perfectionism and responsibility being down graded. Employers look for individuals who are responsible, detail oriented, (which usually translates into perfectionist) and who have a genuine concern for getting the job done right. Yet, these are the very qualities that are picked upon or labeled negative when burnout occurs. I happen to think that people with these qualities are trustworthy, dependable, and an asset to any organization. How does an individual change WHO they are, when the change appears to be a backward motion? How do you become less dependable, less detail oriented, (and still do a good job) or less trustworthy?

As far as setting appropriate limits and boundaries, that only works if you have superiors that understand your position. When my director is told by me, that a previous project will have to be delayed in order for me to get her current demand finished on time, she responds with, "I am sure you will find a way to complete both these projects and get them to me by their deadline." She has no clue has to how long a project takes or what it takes to get it done. "That is my job"

My Director is also a crisis manager; everything is urgent and important. She herself is not organized, or responsible, but expect the people around her to pick up the slack. I believe that burnout is not always because of an individual's personality type, but many times it is caused by the reactions of other individuals around you, who do not hear your requests, demands, or your boundaries. They are always telling you, "You can do it," in spite of your efforts to make yourself heard. I have had several positions where I never experienced burnout. The work flow was more organized, and my superiors allowed me to decide my priorities. I do not feel burnout is an individual's problem, alone. Much of the burnout workers experience is part of the organizational structure. Poor management, lack of organizational flow, not allowing workers the latitude to do their jobs, all contribute to job burnout.

Thank you for your time.


I absolutely agree with the above regarding dysfunctional work environments and managers/supervisors. When in a position with a superior who doesn't want to prioritize and continues to hold you accountable for unreasonable demands, if: a) he or she is immune to a productive one-on-one with you, b) you attempt to enlist colleagues in a group dialogue/confrontation and that fails, and c) upper management is not willing to intervene, then it's time to seriously consider moving on.

Also, I think there is a difference between a creative and dysfunctional perfectionism. I call the dysfunctional perfectionist the HE MAN (though perfectionism is gender blind). This rigid individual is self-defeatingly driven by feelings (most troublesome when disguised) of "Humiliation" and "Emptiness." I ascribe to selective perfectionism: I don't have to use the same precision and persistence in writing this letter as I do an article. I won't fine-tune it till it's just right.

So I've learned that sometimes I can accept doing B work. Again, if your work absolutely requires perfect precision every time and your work environment won't support that, get out. Go into business for yourself. If you feel your spirit and essence is being devalued, trivialized or crushed, don't take it anymore. Achieve "Emancipation Procrastination." Start planning for your liberation now!

I'll place you on my free mailing list; sending past and present newsletters; eventually it becomes a weekly. I'll paste another piece that I've written below; actually a segment from a chapter on burnout-inducing organizational stressors:

Organizational Burnout Smoke Signals

While understanding stress smoke signals and individual psychological dynamics is critical, don't overlook the person-in-the-situation nature of burnout. The erosive spiral likely involves more than one man's (or woman's) self-defeating expectations and defensive or grandiose goal-seeking strategies. Burnout is not simply an individual problem! Individuals and organizations must accurately assess the burnout-prone nature of their work/relationship environments. Don't use a solitary sacrificial scapegoat to cover up a smoking organization.

The individual who's been downsized, as well as the employee waiting for the next reorganization needs to acknowledge the following organizational stressors in order to: a) be less self-blaming and self-punishing for an actual or anticipated wipeout, b) apportion fault or causation more equitably or rationally and, most important, c) confidently know what future work environments are emotionally and physically hazardous to one's well-being. Or, at least, know that certain jobs or assignments are better viewed as tours of duty. After a certain point, encroaching burnout is to be expected, but should not necessarily be worn as a badge of honor. Such positions or roles involve some combination of high caseload, intense action, high challenge, ego-building prestige, killer deadlines, adrenaline rushes, and little time for debriefing or destressing: a law enforcement or child abuse/child welfare worker; a small, understaffed and under funded team planning the relocation of thousands of employees; a computer programmer in a precarious high tech startup; being a stress and violence prevention consultant for a 6,000 person, twenty-four hour/day US Postal Service Processing and Distribution Plant. (And your biorhythm never does adjust to the night shift.) Rotation before exhaustion, depletion and termination is the mantra.

Burnout can smolder, blacken and wipe out all levels of the organizational hierarchy -- employees, supervisors and middle and top management -- as well as teams, departments and, ultimately, the entire organization. Here's a serious list of the daily dozen systemic smoke signals for which you and your organization should be vigilant:

Dirty Dozen Organizational Stress Toxins

1. Cynicism and Apathy. People are constantly complaining about problems; or worse, they've stopped voicing their frustrations as they are convinced it's useless to make suggestions or attempt solutions. Indirect potshots and subtle and not so subtle putdowns may puncture the heavy meeting air. Perhaps most painful, a once cherished belief in the job and mission has been eroded, trivialized and/or compromised.

2. Pessimism and Inertia. Not quite as bad as 1., but organizational uncertainty is taking a toll; the glass always is half empty. Afraid to rock the boat, innovation if not productivity slows; people are going through the motions. Sometimes this leads to little staff turnover and the Bjorn Bored Syndrome: When Mastery times Monotony provides an index of Misery!

3. Heads in Survival Shells. Lack of initiative or rigid fear of making mistakes. As confidence in self and leadership diminishes, staff tolerates perfunctory performance appraisal or robotic team meetings, or none at all. No real discussion regarding team effectiveness and support. When the survival shell is a management enclave, such as "The Tower," capable of spying on employees...(Big) Brother better watch your back.

4. Fear of Criticism and Misguided Loyalty. As self-esteem and defenses wear down, people are quick to overreact to criticism; they take feedback too personally without considering the source. Also, "good employee" hypersensitivity or "fairness contracts" appear, e.g., "I don't deserve any criticism since I'm sacrificing my life and health for the company."

5. Unhealthy Group Alliances. As leadership disintegrates, coalitions form to defy authority and/or to band together for self-protection. Destructive competition among team members and cliques -- looking good at another individual's or group's expense -- overrides the greater good. People spend more time gossiping and rumornating in the hall or behind closed doors than doing actual work.

6. Actual or Perceived Favoritism. Employees believe that supervisors or managers play favorites or cover for them, e.g., bias in the way work is assigned, avoided or passed on to others. There's unfair or inconsistent discipline, along with ignoring hard workers with dysfunctional interpersonal skills who incite personnel problems. (Sometimes bureaucratic rules, good old boy fraternization and undue union protection make it difficult to deal effectively, swiftly and fairly with problematic employees and managers.)

7. Smoldering Rage. Many folks are walking around overstressed, overstretched and chronically deadlined…"the working wounded." Too much overtime and not enough downtime. There's no structure to openly acknowledge frustrations or air grievances with a supervisor, or in a team or union meeting. If this continues, better start installing a metal detector…Take it from a former US Postal Service stress and violence prevention consultant.

8. Rigid Meetings. Time and task-driven agenda; feedback from group members is superficial. There's no honest communication or assessment about the quality of relating and team cooperation and coordination. With leader-dominated meetings backed by submissive followers or an "amen" chorus, conflict identification and genuine problem-solving is squashed. Difference or disagreement is defensively perceived as disrespect or disloyalty.

9. Selfish and Secret Prioritizing. Sense of isolation along with a selfishness and mean-spirited atmosphere prevail. "Do more with less" becomes "hoard more with less." Each department jealously guards information while selfishly pushing their interests or priorities over others' needs, timelines or concerns.

10. Rigidly Customer Driven. Customer is king, employees are peasants. Always having people bending over backwards for customers without sufficient support...beware sacrificing and burning out staff in the process. Employees resenting skewed standards may sabotage company goals or falsify records to create the illusion of high performance and customer satisfaction.

11. Feel Like Pawns. Classic stress environment: high demand with low autonomy or control. Little system concern for employee or supervisory input, grievances, need for training, recognition and career advancement. Place feels too big, too impersonal. Can't get through to resource people or decision-makers; little coordination between departments. Top down decision-making; micromanaging headquarters is out of touch with daily operational realities.

12. Reorganizational Wreck. Sense of high uncertainty and chronic vulnerability -- more work with less people and resources -- is taking its toll. Good people, experienced leaders are starting to bail out or buy out. What's that great big sucking sound? Sounds like we've reached The Big Burnout Bermuda Triangle -- reorganization and, especially, company or agency downsizing.

No big surprise that restructuring zealots will often expose or exacerbate these dynamic dozen. A company often starts to list and employees will feel listless…or explosive. In my "Practicing Safe Stress" Workshop, I can't tell you the numbers of pictures of sinking ships or exploding buildings from group discussion and drawing exercises with Navy and Army Corps of Engineers personnel.

No wonder so many are wavering between feelings of helplessness and rage. The next challenge, while confronting and undoing the burnout, is learning to constructively burn up.

Does Your Organization Practice Safe Stress?

Seven Intervention Strategies

By Mark Gorkin

"The Stress Doc" ™

Budget cuts, reduction in resources and reimbursements, "24/7" anytime, anywher work environment, relentless competition for clients, loss of key personnel...managed scare tactics. Today, an increasing number of professionals must "do more with less." Can anyone say "frightsizing" and "lean-and-MEAN"? Take heart. Have no fear (well, maybe a little)...the Stress Doc is here with his Seven Highly Effective Organizational/Professional Strategies for Practicing Safe Stress.

1. Engage in Group Grieving. I'm going to assume almost everyone these days is occasionally flirting with burnout; too many, I fear, still engage in casual stress. While I'll close the article with individual stress management strategies, let's start with a systems intervention for helping the community of employees grapple with the above-mentioned stressors and losses. And it's not just loss of funds, friends, philosophies and familiar procedures. Cynicism and despondency can build when we feel the organization, the profession, the larger industry and society devalue our services and a once cherished mission. Workshops that allow departments, if not the entire organization, to gather and grieve, that enable folks to see the tragedy and comedy in an absurd world, that encourage the working through of sadness and vulnerability, while focusing justified anger and helping staff regain a sense of purpose, play and control...rebuild the commitment fires and creative juices.

2. Insure Your Pros with "The Triple A." The basic formula for runaway job stress is simple: a work situation having high demand and/or high professional responsibility paired with little authority or low control over work process and outcome. It's not just a heavy workload that's the culprit. People can thrive on reasonably high volume if they have some impact on timing, scheduling and flow. But, for example, when corporate headquarters or the main offices are making global, top down decisions that are fairly out of touch with local needs and operational realities the consequences are often demoralizing.

In these volatile times, here are two philosophical and policy pillars for supporting employee integrity:

a) Encourage and Integrate The Triple 'A' of Professional/Organizational Responsibility: Authority, Autonomy and Accountability. Remember, management must let professionals exercise reasonable independence and individuality in thought and practice. Professionals must understand that accountability to clients and professional management, i.e., effective and ethical management, supports autonomy and credibility. Also, the accountability process legitimizes the need for and strengthens the quality of service delivery.

b) Question the notion of customer as king. During my years as a stress consultant to the US Postal Service, customer service was top priority. However, the USPS realized that resentment and depletion build when an operation is customer-driven and employee negligent. To challenge an organizational ambience where "client is king" and staff are withered and weary peasants, consider my Basic Law of Safe Stress: "Do know your limits and don't limit your 'no's!" Clearly, I'm not saying slam the door shut on your manager or client population. I do mean practicing "N & N" -- the ability to say "no" and to "negotiate," for example, the number of clients or projects for which you have responsibility.

Closed door time is also vital for paper work, individual reflection and collegial bantering and nurturing. And speaking of nurturing, some private time and space allows for my favorite - brief, restorative power napping; highly preferable to caffeine overloading.

And if with Type A arrogance, you dismiss that Stress Doc aphorism, "A time for waste is not a waste of time"…then know what lurks ahead: MSDS – the Multiple & Simultaneous Demand Situation. MSDS develops when you are responsible for: 1) an excessive number of people and projects, 2) when you must keep up with an ever expanding base of data, policies and procedures and 3) when you feel like a slave to deadlines and tied up by thieves of time. If you are not careful this M & S Demand situation can morph into an S & M nightmare – you become a "Slave" to too many "Masters!" And you can become entrapped whether on top or on the bottom, whether dominate or subordinate in a dysfunctional hierarchy.

3. Make Task and Process Meet. "Not another meeting." "Who has time for meetings?!" These can become familiar, plaintive cries in a downsized, pressure-packed setting. Drastically reducing organizational, departmental or team meetings is only a formula for isolation and confusion; making community time meaningful is the key.

Many organizations under a time and resource crunch become increasingly task-driven. After the proverbial status report, meetings are run somewhat like the opening to "Mission Impossible": hierarchical assignments are detailed and delegated, though folks usually aren't asked if they choose to accept. Kidding aside, often lacking is some balance between a task focus and a relationship-group process one. At some point, the meeting needs to connect with how well people are working together, how coordinated the communication, how is stress and conflict being managed, within the team and among various departments...Is the atmosphere one of "esprit de corps" or esprit de corpse? Three suggestions:

a) Establish a Wavelength Segment. In an hour or ninety-minute meeting, set aside fifteen or twenty minutes for processing, usually at the end of the session. Individuals and the team as a whole can check in and tune in with each other.

b) Rotate Leadership. A common mistake is always having a supervisor or manager run the show. Rotating the facilitator can enhance group involvement and commitment, reduce hierarchical decision-making and strengthen team concept and team morale. Also, this procedural shift gives supervisors an opportunity to be a real member of the group, providing an observational vantagepoint for better grasping group dynamics. The biggest challenge, as always, involves control and competition issues: whether the supervisor and the staff can be comfortable with his or her (i.e., the supervisor) wearing two hats - being both formal authority in a primary role and peer in the team meeting?

c) Try a Morning Quickie. Sometimes an alternative to a formal meeting can be a ten minute huddle at the beginning of the day. How about warming up the team by sharing a joke or funny story, with a prize for the best joke of the month. A quick gathering makes it easy for giving the troops a heads up and for affirming that all are on the same day game page.

4. Envision Mission and Goals. With the above policies, structures and procedures in place, hopefully, your organization is no longer a candidate for becoming the land-based version of the Titanic. Agency and staff will not be sinking and disappearing. Perhaps proactive leadership and creative consensus can replace management by crisis. This is especially critical after a major restructuring or downsizing. Set aside some team building/staff training time. If you haven't already done so, consider bringing in a "Team Visioning and Goal Setting" consultant. For a mission statement to be viable and for action plans that realize goals and objectives there needs to both short term and long range planning and buy in from staff.

Of course, the danger of a big picture retreat is that people and perspective can get swept away by ideals and rhetoric. Remember, there's often a fine line between vision and hallucination. To preserve that boundary, integrate past, present and future with my "Four 'F' Model of Loss and Change": 1) examine honestly and openly the strengths and vulnerabilities of the familiar past, 2) collectively grieve any loss of face or organizational identity and pride, 3) recommit to a collaborative method of conflict resolution to nurture a diverse, participatory team focus, and 4) explore new problem-solving options and opportunities for a pregnant and expansive future. (Hey, what kind of imagery do you expect in an article on "Safe Stress?")

5. Manage Stress Carriers. Now for a delicate matter. Some folks, even after partaking in these potentially rejuvenating steps, will not be able to rebuild the fire; there's no renewing a genuine sense of individual and/or organizational purpose and commitment. At least not on their own. A percentage may respond to individual supervision and coaching. Others may benefit from Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counseling or, hopefully, will seek out private psychotherapy. However, there may be a few individuals just not able to function in the still demanding day-to-day environment. I can't emphasize this enough: when management does not set appropriate limits and boundaries on such professional "stress carriers," team morale and productivity are contaminated and compromised.

Sometimes employees have to intervene with a supervisor or management before decision-makers realize they are ignoring or covering up for an impaired colleague (who also may be a personal friend or, even, a high producer). Clearly, fair, effective ("do the right thing') and efficient ("do the thing right") grievance procedures must be in place. Engaging this troubled individual is essential for his or her sake as well as for others. Remember, stress carriers (including managers in denial) may not get ulcers but they certainly can give them!

6. Fireproof Life with IRAs and PUNCH. Despite, or because of, the future shock pace of change, some professionals will have "been there, done that" one too many times. (Organizational crisis often surfaces chronic individual frustrations.) Maybe it's the 300th couple counseling session or "not another sexual abuser." These folks may be experiencing what I call 'The Bjorn Bored Syndrome (BBS)," named for the late '70s-early '80s tennis great, Bjorn Borg. Borg, after a five year reign, dramatically burned out on the circuit. BBS has a simply elegant formula: when mastery times monotony provides an index of MISERY! The answer: Fireproof your life with variety. And for management and staff I offer two stimulating acronyms:

a) Organizational IRAs. Provide "Incentives, Rewards and Advancement Opportunities" for employees. Merit bonuses, new training and conference attendance keep the mind, heart and soul supple and dynamic. I experienced LMR - Lateral Movement Revival - from doing EAP Orientation training and short-term counseling when the New Orleans Family Services Society started an EAP venture with a federal government agency. The move also laid the groundwork for a future training/consulting career path.

b) Entrepreneurial PUNCH. More than ever, organizations must develop new clients and resources. Professionals need to springboard from the office into the larger real and virtual community to market products and services. The entrepreneurial spirit is calling. I've detailed how to embrace it. (See "Adding Entrepreneurial PUNCH to Your Career Path: Surviving the Managed Care Scare," Treatment Today, Fall 1996 or email for my essay, "On Becoming an Internet Entrepreneur.") Here's a quick outline of skills and strategies for entrepreneurial evolution and rejuvenation, whether a professional chooses to stay with the organization or to move on:

P. Public Presentation. Public speaking and workshop leading are both powerful marketing vehicles and challenging, exhilarating and growth producing opportunities. So too meeting a wide variety of consumers and colleagues.

U. User-Friendly. Avoiding psychobabble and communicating ideas and concepts with an expanded audience - face-to-face or through writing and the electronic media - in a lively and tangible, meaningful and memorable style is critical. For example, are you ready to help folks "Practice Safe Stress" or confront "The Intimate FOE: Fear of Exposure?"

N. Networking. Make connections with a variety of consumer/client groups and professional associations, not just those in your immediate professional circle. It was hobnobbing with graphic artists that eventually challenged this computer virgin to integrate hi tech with hi touch. Recently, in addition to social workers, two dentists and a marketer attended my public speaking/program marketing seminar. Two years ago, hobnobbing with self-employed business folks opened the door to the wonders of space travel.

C. Cyberspace and (Mass) Communications. Hopefully, you have already launched into cyberspace travel and are pioneering new prospects around the World Wide Web. If not, there are fertile opportunities for generating unprecedented visibility – sharing ideas on web sites and in chat rooms, getting customer feedback, building relationships and marketing alliances and transacting business. Go web young cyber-ite!

H. Humor. You don't have to be a standup comic, just appreciate the absurdity in the world and laugh at and share your own imperfect humanness. Remember, people are more willing, even eager, to open and receive a serious message when it's gift-wrapped with humor. Every mental health organization needs at least one in-house "psychohumorist" (tm).

7. Develop Psychological Hardiness. While this article has especially focused on team strategies, a vital group and community requires healthy and hardy individuals. Here are some final stress management strategies based on a study with AT&T executives. During the break up of Ma Bell in the '80s, researchers discovered four factors that distinguished execs susceptible to physical and emotional illness from those who demonstrated "psychological hardiness." To survive and thrive in a turbulent transition, build in these "Four 'C's of Masterful Coping":

a. Commitment. While invested in the company's reorganization, the hardy execs didn't just have a work life. They had a life...and were nurtured by family, friends, religious practice, recreation and hobbies.

b. Control. Hardy execs had a realistic and less rigid sense of control; they avoided self-defeating turf battles. A swollen ego did not hinder their stepping back and reassessing the changing landscape.

c. Change. Quickly dealing with feelings of loss, while not harboring false hopes and illusions about the future enabled these individuals to explore new options. Hardy players viewed change as a stepping stone not a stumbling block.

d. Conditioning. Finally, the hardiest execs engaged in regular physical exercise. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise - walking, jogging, swimming, bike riding, etc. - releases the body's natural pain killers and mood enhancers. Equally important, in times of stressful transition, exercise grounds us when everything else seems up in the air; there's a beginning and end point, providing a tangible sense of accomplishment and control.

In closing, in these tumultuous times organizations must help rebuild individual energy. Management and professionals must together cultivate conflict managing and harmonizing team structures along with healthy boundaries both within and with the outer environment. Organizations also need to encourage career and skill evolution and responsibility for professional productivity and personal integrity. It takes a systems approach and individual hard work to forge that elusive balance: giving to your organization, colleagues and clients as well as getting from others and giving to yourself. But when you create that balance, you definitely have begun to...Practice Safe Stress!


Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is a keynote, international/Celebrity Cruise Lines speaker and syndicated writer on stress, anger management, reorganizational change, team building, public speaking and HUMOR! He is America Online’s "Online Psychohumorist" ™ with a USA Today Online "HotSite" – www.stressdoc.com. For more info, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.