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Practical Application: Staying Professional Under Pressure at Work

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

As unpleasant as workplace conflict can be, it is neither entirely negative nor something that should be avoided at all costs. However, realizing the benefits of stress and conflict requires a calm, professional response.

Making the Most of Pressure

Although pressure at work isn't fun, the complete removal of stress, conflict, and pressure is actually counterproductive. Sure - too much of these things can make life miserable, but people who know how to remain professional during such times will realize significant (and sometimes unexpected) benefits.

You can hone your skills and strategies from the lesson Practicing Professionalism Under Pressure & Conflict. Then, take a look at the following scenario and answer the analysis questions.

Life Isn't Fair

Russell has worked for XYZ Transportation for nearly seven years as supervisor. The company hired him following their successful bid to be the exclusive provider of school bus transportation in the K-12 school district. About six months ago, the district filed notice of their intent to terminate the XYZ contract. Now XYZ was completing the final six months of the contract, and the situation was deteriorating.

The company and therefore Russell desperately needed their workforce to stay until the final day, since it still had contractual obligations to meet. Employees were anxious about their situations and looking for employment anywhere they could find it. Even worse than the uncertainty about the future was the indifference about the present. Why follow the rules when everyone was getting let go anyway?

  • If you were Russell, the supervisor, during this transition, how will you help your staff through this trying time?
  • Specifically, what will you coach them to do or not do?
  • Would you incentivize good behavior, punish bad behavior, both, or neither? Why?

The Options

As you think about strategies for making this process as painless as possible, you might want to consider some of strategies.

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