We live in a society of “joiners.” We like to join churches, clubs, committees, and community organisations. We like to join classes and magazine subscription drives. We simply enjoy being with other people, and so we spend much of our lives in groups. Certainly, this is a good thing—not only for our own mental health, but also for the good of society as a whole.
And yet, no organisation is a perfect entity. Organisations often breed conflict within their ranks. The conflicts may be between people on the same level, or between people at different levels of the organisational hierarchy. The conflicts may be one-time disagreements, or bruising fights which last for eons. While some conflicts can be attributed to personality clashes, others stem from the organisation itself.
Whether you’re involved in parent-teacher organisations or a political group, you might find that you’re running up against organisation-induced stress. This can come in a variety of forms. To begin with, it might be caused by the fact that the organisation seems to have lost its sense of purpose. It may be wandering aimlessly and lack clearly-defined goals. As a result, you might feel a great deal of stress since you aren’t certain where the organisation is headed—or even if you want to go along for the ride. If you come across this problem, the best thing to do is to air your concerns to someone in a position of authority. It is entirely possible that the leadership will ignore your concerns, but at least you’ve tried. If you fail to achieve a workable solution, you might then be forced to leave the organisation. But you’ll leave knowing that you attempted to have a positive impact.
The stress might also be a result from doing most of the work as a volunteer, without other picking up their fair share of the work involved. Voluntary organisations often attract people who like to sit and listen, and have their say, but not to actually get things done.
While most organisations have people in positions of leadership, many groups lack true leaders. As a result, members of the organisation may experience a great deal of stress, having to deal with constant uncertainty. A true leader takes charge of an organisation. He or she has a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished and promotes a team atmosphere in order to get the job done. If you are in an organisation that appears to be leaderless, try to identify potential leaders. Encourage them to seek leadership, and assure them that you will support their candidacies. Such a strategy can help to alleviate the stress of all concerned.
Another problem that can lead to stress is an uncooperative organisational culture. There may be a feeling that each person in the organisation is on his or her own, that each person should be an independent operator. As a result, the individuals within the organisation may feel isolated and alone. The best defence against such a situation is healthy communication. Talk to other members of the group and find out if they are sensing an uncooperative atmosphere too. Then, get together and confront the person in charge. You might be amazed at what your small committee can do to effect change within the organisation—and you might find your stress level subsiding considerably.
Yet another stress-inducing situation is organisational pessimism. Do members feel as if things will never get better? Are they frustrated and angry? Is there a sense of hopelessness in the ranks? If so, you and other members of the group may be experiencing a great deal of stress. You can lessen the stress by promoting a positive attitude. Make sure that you offer positive input when confronted with problems, and encourage other members of the organisation to do the same. With a little bit of effort, you can turn your organisation around—and lessen your stress in the process.
Organisational stress may take you by surprise. You might have joined the organisation to relieve your stress by contributing to your community, so when stress occurs in the group, you need to undergo a major attitude re-adjustment. The important thing to remember in such a situation is that you are not alone. Chances are other members of the group are experiencing the same kinds of things that you are. Trust your judgment and don’t be afraid to express your displeasure if things go wrong. The more you express your feelings, the more likely you are to reduce your stress.