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For example, a person who has Role Overload (Kahn, 1992, Stress in Organizations Handbook of Organizational Psychology, p. 575) may feel unable to complete the amount of work given in an ordinary day; the amount of work interferes with the quality of work. This person is more likely to suffer from work stress then one who has an even predictable workload. Role Overload in theory may produce another stressor called Role Conflict. Role Conflict by Kahn (1964) is defined as The simultaneous occurrence of two or more sets of pressures in the workplace such that compliance with one would make compliance more difficult with the other. Role Conflict may develop if a person receives conflicting directions from two individuals or if the instructions are different then acceptable practice or the individual must utilize more time to complete both projects. This may be seen in organizations where there is a struggle for power, neither an individual will relinquish control of a project thus, subordinates suffer by trying to satisfy both individuals.
This type of situation may be seen in organizations that use a matrix reporting structure. Role Underload is a chronic under-use of intelligence, knowledge or manual skills. (Kahn, 1992, Stress in Organizations Handbook of Organizational Psychology, p. 575) In the work force, this may mean that an individual is not suited for the task because the job does not challenge their intellectual or physical capabilities. This lack of challenge may leave too much time for individuals to ponder other personal problems that they may be experiencing. This may also contribute to an individual developing poor self-esteem, which in turn may precipitate a poor mental outlook.
It seems like a strange point, if a person is over challenged they may feel stress and as in this case if they are under challenged they may feel stress. Balance of stressors may be the key. Role Ambiguity is the changing status of time or information that a person has and the amount that is required to perform the role adequately. (Kahn, 1992, Stress in Organizations Handbook of Organizational Psychology, p. 577) Role Ambiguity may involve a mismatch of a persons intellectual skills and knowledge. For example, a technically gifted engineer for purposes of career development is assigned to work as a production supervisor for an assembly operation. Instead of dealing with design enhancements and process improvements, he is dealing with production deadlines and Union Representatives.
In engineering, the individual is within their environment are capable of handling day-to-day happenings however, dealing with unions and production deadlines would be the job of a manager of business. In the ever-changing world of production supervision, they would be at odds with their environment. This scenario could be defined as a conflicting Person-Environment interface. According to Hurrell, (1999), stress results from the interaction of the worker and the conditions of work. Views differ, however, on the importance of worker characteristics versus working conditions as the primary cause of job stress. These differing viewpoints are important because they suggest different ways to prevent stress at work. Differences in individual characteristics such as personality and coping style are most important in predicting whether certain job conditions will result in stress-in other words, what is stressful for one person may not be a problem for someone else (Sauter and Hurrell, 1999, Occupational stress: Issues and developments in research, p. 82).
This viewpoint leads to prevention strategies that focus on workers and ways to help them cope with demanding job conditions. Although the importance of individual differences cannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions are stressful to most people. (Sauter and Hurrell, 1999, Occupational stress: Issues and developments in research, p. 94) In many organizations, workers have little decision-making power. For example, a customer service representative is responsible for fielding incoming calls. Inevitably, the calls are primarily from angry customers concerned about a late shipment.
The representative has no control over the shipping department and in fact has virtually no communication with that department. After listening to the customer's complaints over a period of time, the representative has several suggestions which management could implement in the shipping department that may improve customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, management is not interested in the ideas of a customer service representative. As a result, angry customers whose concerns could have been prevented attack the representative daily..
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