by Peter Frost - http://www.toxinhandler.com - Harvard Business Review Press
...a new (2003) book on leading with compassion and handling toxic work environments. [info/excerpt].
The title is pretty self-explanatory, and the book is a marvelous description of an emerging phenomenon that results from complex and challenging work environments. The notion of toxic organizations isn't new, everyone has a story about one. What is new is the way leaders and managers are trying to deal with toxicity in organizations. As more and more managers develop their authenticity at work, they become more and more open to the swirling currents of emotion that surround them. Mangers who help to manage these currents in organizations become "toxin handlers" and require a whole set of strategies aimed at preserving their health and the health and compassion of the organization.
This book opens up a whole new side to management, leadership and action with purpose. It's based on stories of actual practice and contains tools and discussion aimed at increasing the capacity of organizations and people to lead with compassion in times of rapid and emotionally exhausting change.
The HBR Press site has this teaser for the book:
In Toxic Emotions at Work, Peter J. Frost argues that managers must work to institutionalize compassion if they want to avoid the debilitating effects of pain on performance. Regardless of the organization or job level, pain--caused by anything from abusive bosses to budget pressures to unexpected traumas--is an inevitable byproduct of work. When pain is acknowledged and managed, it can be transformed from an emotional obstacle to a constructive force for change. But if it is ignored, pain can poison the workplace, hamper productivity, and threaten the bottom line. A world run on human capital requires human responses to the often harsh realities of business--and most leaders are shirking this vital responsibility. Consequently, self-appointed pain managers--"toxin handlers"--are currently shouldering the burden of emotional pain for entire organizations. Based on an in-depth study of this pervasive phenomenon, Frost illustrates how managers can recognize and support toxin handlers--and, importantly, what they must learn from these individuals to take on the critical role of emotional management themselves. The author also reveals the main sources of organizational toxicity and outlines ways companies can develop and formalize caring and constructive responses. Making a compelling case for compassion in business, this book helps leaders transform pain from an occupational hazard to a force for healthy organizations.
At the above link, you can read an excerpt of the book too.
Frost's website for the book is at http://www.toxinhandler.com
Links to Peter's articles past...
That'll get you started...
To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk How scientists proved that the pain of rejection is all too real Ian Sample, science correspondent Thursday October 09 2003 The Guardian The pain of rejection is more than mere metaphor. A team of scientists have found that to the brain, a social snub is just like stubbing a toe. Brain scans carried out on volunteers showed that when they suffered a social snub, the brain's "pain centre" went into overdrive. The finding suggests that any emotional stress, such as the demise of a relationship or the loss of a loved one, might be far more closely linked to real pain than previously thought. Scientists have known for some time that when a person is physically hurt, a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate flickers into action. "It's like an alarm system. It lets you know when you're feeling pain," said Matthew Lieberman, a psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles. Dr Lieberman and his colleagues Naomi Eisenberger and Kipling Williams decided to see if the same part of the brain was triggered by emotional stress. They got volunteers to lie down in a brain scanner while they played a simple computer game. The game involved hitting buttons on a handset to catch a virtual ball and then throw it to one of two other players on a screen. Volunteers were told that the game was unimportant and that it was only being used to check that connections to the other players lying in scanners elsewhere worked. But the researchers were not telling the truth. The other two players were not real at all, but were being controlled by a computer program. When the game started, all three players passed the ball around so that each got a fair share of the action. But after playing for a while, the computer-controlled players suddenly started throwing the ball only between themselves. "We had people coming out of the scanners saying 'Did you see what they did to me!'," said Dr Lieberman. The volunteers who felt most put out by the snub showed the biggest changes in brain activity. Their brain's "pain centre" had become far more active. "The response to this social exclusion was remarkably similar to what you see in response to physical pain," said Dr Lieberman. According to Dr Lieberman, his results should change how we think about emotional pain. "We tend to think physical harm is in a different category to emotional harm, but this shows we should be aware that emotional pain can cause the same kind of distress to someone as physical pain." Professor Anthony Dickenson, of University College London, who specialises in the origins of pain, said: "This whole area is incredibly important because it's proving to the medical profession once and for all that emotional distress is a genuine thing, that people who are distressed and upset are not malingerers. "It shows that the psychological aspects of pain are genuine and real and dealing with it is not a case of telling people to pull themselves together." Dr Richard Wise, of Oxford University, who has used magnetic resonance imaging to study the effect of pain on the brain, said: "Studies like this have a broader value in that they can help us build up an idea of the networks in the brain that are involved in experiencing different feelings." Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
this also seems related here...
My Job, Myself, My Problem? Joanne Gordon A new study says U.S. workers are unhappy--and why employers should care. http://www.forbes.com/2003/01/24/cz_jg_0124work.html
"Here's the gist: Of 1,100 people from 1,004 companies with 500 or more employees, 55% described their work in negative terms--using phrases such as exhausted, confused and unsupported. A full third felt "intensely negative."
"What's surprising is why. In short, people feel bad about work because work makes them feel bad about themselves. A higher salary or quirky benefits like a corporate gym, it turns out, aren't the real keys to glee."
"What puts that bounce in your step is a sense of confidence, control and community," says Mark Mactas, chief executive and chairman of Towers Perrin, the New York City-based human resources consulting firm that commissioned the study, "Working Today: Exploring Employees' Emotional Connection to Their Jobs."
". disgruntled employees will quit as soon as they can; 28% of those who felt very negative are already job hunting. The rest will stay put but waste time whining at the office." (The Emotional Virus: http://www.emotionalmastery.com/virus.html)
". the study tracked a "statistically significant" correlation between positive emotions and companies' five-year shareholder return. The more positive workers' emotions, the higher company profits."