Stress seems an inevitable part of people climbing the career ladder although people’s reactions or reflections on it seem to be changing. In our face-paced world, it is almost considered normal to feel stressed and increasingly, individuals are criticised or pilloried as weak if they speak out and says ‘I’m not coping’. Organisations differ in how they respond to their employees suffering. Many put in place genuine systems to offer support, allowing individuals to progress whilst creating a healthy work/life balance. However, many organisational cultures appear barbaric and individuals ‘often in private’ are told they are weak or they have to make a choice – work at the pace and with the demands as they are or leave or go and get well. Many organisations don’t see that changing the work context or their management style is an option.
Many people who come to me in managerial positions suffering from stress claim that ‘Surely my superiors know that their demands are unreasonable!’ I point out to them that how people treat others is a reflection of how they treat themselves. The demands a person puts on someone else really indicates what they believe they should be capable of. If demands are humanly impossible to achieve in the stated time, then it is an indication that the person demanding can’t really satisfy their own expectations, yet alone empathise that someone else might have difficulty with them. Instead they may become critical or cynical of others, declaring them to be uncommitted or weak, when really they are stating they are intolerant of their own weaknesses and limitations and simply can’t let themselves get away with it.
Remember, that whatever the demands of others, you have choice in how you respond. My advice is to not let others dictate through their expectations how you value yourself. By all means, see others as encouraging and setting guidelines about your capabilities – but ultimately, contract or no contract, you are responsible for your working experience even if you decide to delegate it to someone else you believe has the power to do so.