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Stress. We know all about that, don’t we? Reflections on a misunderstood phenomenon. Campbell Russell July 5 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Stress. We know all about that, don’t we? Reflections on a misunderstood phenomenon. Campbell Russell July 5 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Stress. We know all about that, don’t we? Reflections on a misunderstood phenomenon. Campbell Russell July

2 Purpose To briefly explore how we perceive stress To have some understanding of the origins of stress To consider the outcomes of an action research project conducted in Cheshire and Cheshire West and Chester To consider how we might address stress issues in our work.

3 What’s causing you to be stressed? I’m just snowed under....

4 Problems with this? It is unclear Our response becomes headless chicken We focus on the generic We may fail to see the causes of our stress that can be managed.

5 Know your enemy: What is Stress? “a pattern of negative physiological states and psychological responses occurring in situations where individuals perceive threats to their well-being, which they be unable to meet” Lazarus 1975

6 Does it exist? “Stress doesn’t exist as a syndrome” However, there is evidence that people reach the point where they: can’t let go of problems; avoid situations; become dysfunctional.

7 HSE definition “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work” Is this broad enough?

8 HSE Standards The Management Standards cover six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and well-being, lower productivity and increased sickness absence. In other words, the six Management Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work. These are: Demands – this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.Demands Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.Control Support – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.Support Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.Relationships Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.Role Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.Change

9 Take one standard and consider how it may be breached. Task 1

10 Feedback Groups feedback Any burning issues? Examples that must be given? What have we learned from the exercise about the sources of stress? Key question – have the standards any legal status? No, but complying with the standards is a way of avoiding legislation.

11 Research findings 37 schools over an 18 month period. Recently re-run as a pilot with 3 schools to see if there were any notable changes. There were not Staff are asked to identify stressors Common themes What do you think were the top 3?

12 Our results Communication Relationships Technology/admin failure

13 Communication Staff meetings that were held to only give instructions Vital information withheld Too much information Failure to give positive feedback

14 Relationships Strains in the relationship between Head and staff or within staff body. Favourites; “creeping”, lack of sympathy How is the consensus created and maintained Professional reliability and inter-dependence. This includes the “he doesn’t do that for me” comment and colleagues missing deadlines.

15 Technology/admin failure Photocopier Computer crashes Office setting deadlines Support staff trying to off-load tasks back onto teaching staff.

16 Case study 1 Jane has been a KS1 teacher in the same school for nearly 30 years. She teaches in a school that serves a socially disadvantaged area. Ofsted have recently declared the school as being one that “requires improvement” largely because of educational standards in KS1. Jane gained a “good” grading. One of Jane’s colleagues, Diane, aspires to headship. She was rated as “outstanding” She has been teaching year 6 for three years, and has asked for KS1 experience. The Head announces that she plans to swap Diane and Jane over. Jane feels highly stressed by the proposal.

17 Case study 2 The staff at a small primary school have always helped out at PTA events, and more recently have been coming in at weekends and school holidays at the request of the Head to “manage” their work areas. Bob is new to school. Within weeks of his starting, the school was inspected by Ofsted and Bob’s teaching was rated as “outstanding”. However, Bob has decided that he also needs a life, and has told the Head that he isn’t willing to work at weekends and holidays. Bob’s colleagues have begun to criticise him over small things – whether he adheres to the washing up protocol for example. He tells friends he feels uncomfortable at work. His doctor signs him off with depression

18 Two quick thoughts “In my experience, teaching is the only job where stress is more commonly work related than outside life related” Dr Michael Orton, formerly chief OH Consultant for M&S and Cheshire CC. Cheshire NUT training 2005 “It’s not your fault, but it is your problem” Dr Neal Gething, Consultant Psychologist and Senior Partner of “Glowatwork”. Brent H&S Conference 2010

19 Significance? While we should always look beneath the surface, the source of the stress is likely to be the job and therefore is a problem you should take to your union! However, we cannot simply rely on quoting “standards” or looking to tackle “management”. The problem is the ours and we need direct help and support.

20 Ultimately.... There are only two things that can change: 1.The situation 2.The individual’s ability to handle the situation

21 As an individual therefore.. If we can change the situation we should do so. This might mean better time management/prioritising. You need help with this – the union and supportive colleagues. Changing ourselves is equally difficult. Martyrdom isn’t helpful. Overcome the need to win; find a place to express emotions; learn to be “successfully vulnerable”

22 Over to you


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