Job Stress and the Little Red Hen

By: Robert Lewis

We all know what job stress is but where does the Little Red Hen come in?

The Little Red Hen was very industrious So when the president of the company gave the Little Red Hen a complicated project to work on, the Little Red Hen worked and worked, she worked late every night, she worked on Saturdays, she worked on Sundays, she even worked on Thanksgiving day.

When the project was finally finished she went to the CEO’s office to turn the project in, but guess what she found. Her supervisor was already there. with her work, receiving congratulations for a job well done.

The storybook Little Red Hen at least got to eat the bread, but all our Little Red Hen got was a stress headache.

This scenario is played out in the in the workplace with a different cast and in different locations over and over again. It’s not always a supervisor, It may be a co-worker taking the easy road to promotions.

It is often the hardest workers who are unfairly treated. They usually settle for nothing less than perfection and feel resentful when their accomplishments are ignored or when someone else gets the credit for their work.

Job stress caused by a supervisor is difficult to deal with. If you need your job you have to play the game. However before you decide how to handle the situation, two questions must be answered. Is this a one time thing, or is this type of behavior ongoing? The second question is does the supervisor treat everyone in that way or just you. If everyone is treated as he treated the little red hen, it is easier.

When several employees band together with complaints they are listened to. When it is only one employee with a problem, it is often dismissed as being “a bad day,” “sour grapes,” or “what’s wrong with her/him?

If you have gotten along well with this supervisor before this “incident” it is probably best to treat it like an “incident,” as it does not mean he will do this again.

If this supervisor has done similar things to you or other employees, it is probably best to bring it up (in a nice way) and ask why. However, don’t expect an answer, but the supervisor will know that you are aware of what happened.

Only you can decide how far to take this injustice. You know how much you need the job, and how the supervisor will probably act. Will he be defensive? Or go on the offense. Is he basically a nice guy? If he is, he will probably settle this in some honorable way.

If not, treat yourself to a good dinner in your favorite restaurant, and go on to bigger things. You can’t change his basic personality. But you now know what kind of a person the supervisor is and you can take steps to prevent this or similar things from happening to you again.

Copyright 2006 Robert T. Lewis

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Robert T. Lewis, Ph.D.
Psychologist and Author of:
The Best Little Job Stress Manual on the Planet

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