Managing Stress

This discussion will be graded using the discussion participation rubric.


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Your manager calls you into his office.

It has happened. Your organization will be taken over by a competitor. The building in which you work will be closed and eventually sold. Your new work location will be announced. It may be in another city or state. Your manager now reports to Mr. Spitler, Vice President of Human Resources for the new parent organization.

Mr. Spitler will determine your future work location and duties. He has stated that salaries and titles will stay the same but are subject to review. Your current Human Relations Department will be disbanded, and you and fellow employees will be reassigned to the parent company Human Resource Department under Mr. Spitler.

Ten percent of the employees in your organization, both union and management, will be terminated or transferred. Those terminated will be paid a month’s salary instead of notice. Mr. Spitler has determined who he wishes to retain and who will be transferred or terminated. You and your manager have been informed of his decisions. You have no say in these changes but are responsible for announcing them and carrying them out.

You have been told not to worry, but do not know what will happen to you or your manager. You have considered resigning, but a quick check of your peer network inside and outside the company tells you that the likelihood of finding a job equal to the one you now have is very small.

Although the take-over has been rumored, you and your manager are the only ones in your organization who are aware that the decision has been made. In one week, the changes, including who will stay and who will leave, will be announced. Those who are terminated will be counseled and escorted from the building. While they are being interviewed, security will retrieve and box their personal, belongings which will be given to them when they leave the building. To prevent sabotage, you have been instructed to inform no one they have been terminated in advance.

Mr. Spitler stated that given your past performance, you are tasked to assist your manager in seeing than the changeover is carried out successfully. You and your manager will spend the weekend determining how you will prepare your organization for the changes, beginning Monday morning.

You meet with your manager and discuss the following tasks:

1. Goal Setting: What do we have to accomplish, and by what criteria will we measure success?

2. Leadership: How can we provide leadership in this time of change?

3. Communication: How should we communicate the changes to the various groups involved? What should we communicate, and when should we communicate it? Some of those who are leaving have worked with us for years. They include friends, rivals, those we don’t mind losing, and those we wish we could keep. Also, some of those who have been designated to stay may decide to find jobs elsewhere. (So would we if we could).

4. Morale and Trust: How can we maintain group cohesion, minimize conflict, and retain the trust of the workers who will remain? How can we prevent negative group think? After the changes are made, we will still need to work together with those who are left. We will not be able to do that if we lose their confidence now.

5. Stress Reduction: How can we minimize stress and prevent verbal or physical violence? There is at least one employee to be terminated who has gone through the substance abuse program and was at one time considered a suicide risk. There is another employee who has been known to be violent when angry.

6. Addendum: Personal (Not personnel) Management: How do we keep our own mental and emotional balance while accomplishing this stressful task, knowing that we also are at risk?

7a. What did you learn from this assignment?

7b. How could this assignment be improved?

The posting should be no longer than three double-spaced pages with one inch margins using a size 11 or 12 font. (It may be shorter). It will be graded using the discussion participation rubric.

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