There's no way around it, every position contains some degree of pressure. Now despite this truth, most company's don't prioritize these circumstances until the employee is facing them. When this happens, the employee is not prepared and the situation becomes sink or swim. This should be unacceptable, as the outcome(s) can cost your company severely (lost clients, bad press, frustrated employee(s), etc).

That is why hiring someone capable of thriving despite the stress, is absolutely critical. To do that, you have to attempt to spot the pressure points before you even begin searching for candidates.

Sources of Stress

You'll find that work-related stress falls into one of two categories: Man Made Fears or Positionally Created Pressures. Essentially, the hire will mentally put the burden on him/herself or the burden will appear from constraints of the job itself.

Man Made Fears

I'll tell you right off the bat, finding and defining all the Man Made Fears will be impossible. Everyone is different, which means reactions to situations will vary. Additionally, Man Made Fears are in the person's head or part of his/her belief system, which innately makes them harder to correct. Regardless, it's still worth the time because the more you understand the hardships your employee will face, the easier it is to cultivate remedies for the issues.

Another advantage of diagnosing these cerebral strains, prior to the candidate search, is your ability to develop screening practices that focuses on eliminating incapable candidates. This gives you the best chance to hire a person capable of prospering in these circumstances. Remember, it's better to find out someone that lacks the capacity to handle certain aspects of the job during the interview process than discovering it after they've been on the job for 6 months with something important on the line.

To make this task a little easier, here's a list of common Man Made Fears ...

  • Communication
    • Verbal Presentations
    • Phone Conversations
    • Public Speaking
  • Environment
    • Layout - Open vs. Cubicle
    • Work Space - Office, Remotely, or Mixed
    • Noise
  • People Interactions
    • Amount of Group and Independent Work
    • Number of Subordinates
    • Superior's Management Style
  • Office Hours
  • The Future
    • Ability to Move Up (Better Title / Salary)
    • Job Security
    • Risk of Injury

Now these are not all the Man Made Fears out there, but they are common among employees. It's also important to note that some will be easier to define. The hire will either work in the office, at home or have a combo of the two - easy. Superior's Management Style is slightly more intricate as there are several key components that are needed in order to create a clear definition. (I recommend keeping your eyes open for future articles, where I'll be showing you how to define these situations and highlight the stressful aspects of each.)

Positionally Created Stresses

Now on the other side of the pressure coin are these Positionally Created Stresses. These are typically key responsibilities of the position and are identify as pass or fail situations. Here are a few common examples...

  • Time / Deadlines
    • Project Completion
    • Delivery Windows
    • Ensuring Operations Stay on Schedule
  • Performance Goals / Actions
    • Sale Quotas
    • Customer Satisfaction Rating
    • Firing Staff
  • Technology
    • Operating Complex Machinery
    • Continually Staying Up-to-Date with Changing Software
    • Competing Against Technology
  • Shortage of Staff
    • Handling Multiple Assignments
    • Delegating Tasks to Understaffed Team
    • Keeping Understaffed Team Motivated
  • Financial
    • Spending within Budget
    • Determining the Monetary Affects of Buying New Equipment vs. Repairing
    • Negotiating Prices

Just like the previous list, these are not all the Positionally Created Stresses out there, but they are prevalent. Also, despite being tension filled scenarios, you can put in procedures to reduce mistakes or make someone more efficient at any one of these tasks. Again, by defining it early, you can avoid these added measures, which cost time and money, and focus on hiring candidates capable of handling the demand of the position.

Bonus - Where to Begin

Ultimately, you're going to end up with a list of about 8-15 pressure points that are going to impact this position and the person that works in it. But first I want you to gather as many Positionally Created Stresses and Man Made Fears as you can for this particular role. You're also going to want to start with Positionally Created Stresses because they'll often reveal the most crucial Man Made Fears.

Let's look at "Shortage of Staff" for example. You'll see that this situation often results in the employee handling multiple assignments at once (Positionally Created Stress), which forces them to work overtime, and may increase the likelihood of injury (Man Made Fears). Additionally, you can look at the management style of this position's superior because he/she will also be dealing with the shortage. Together, these all play a role in the stress felt by the employee, and truly has an impact on their overall performance.

Suggested Follow-ups:

Article By: Tom Kieley

About the Author

Tom is the creator of Fulfillingly. He absolutely enjoys giving people the tips and tools they need to find a satisfying career or dependable employee. Tom does
this by combining years of experience with incredible outside sources.

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