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How to Spot Obstacles at Work and Conquer Them

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How do you cope with obstacles at work?

How do you cope with obstacles at work?
How do you cope with obstacles at work?

Many workplaces can be very stressful – from unclear goals being set and short-term decision making to a lack of resources, the causes for stress are diverse. Frequently, it leads to negative behaviour in people that may hinder productivity, affect happiness levels and result in a poor team spirit. Such adverse conduct is due to so-called fear patterns: coping mechanisms people resort to when placed under stress, which have negative consequences for others working alongside them.


While an obstacle is usually a challenge for an individual to overcome, it is important to note that there is a considerable ripple effect: Each individual obstacle causes specific symptoms that exacerbate another person’s symptoms, and so on. In this way, everyone’s personal obstacles altogether impact productivity levels. Therefore, as a first step, awareness needs to be raised in order to eventually weather such obstacles.

The following list shows what types of obstacles may be present in a work environment, and how a change in business policies could improve the situation. (This is an extract; a comprehensive list can be found in Carita Nyberg’s Overcome Your Obstacles.)

  1. Sabotage: In companies where the safety and wellbeing of employees is neglected, sabotage is often the result. Precautions and safety measures as well as professional on-the-job training need to be established.
  1. Greed: A high level of competition, poor working conditions, and lower salaries than the standard rate often lead to greed. Introducing high ethical business standards and fair wages as well as improving working conditions will ameliorate the situation, especially with regard to creating a supportive and mutually respectful environment.
  1. Self-deprecation: When employees are treated badly, criticised in public or discriminated against, and it is virtually impossible to earn bonuses or get a pay rise, this contributes to self-deprecating behaviour among the staff. Therefore, clear rules for promotions and rewards are required, in addition to the support of achievements and wellbeing; whereas abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.

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  1. Arrogance: A competitive environment, in which the interaction with managers is very restricted, may exacerbate arrogant behaviour. Measures to be taken include the reduction of unnecessary stress, fostering the interaction between management and staff, and giving the latter more opportunities to contribute.
  1. Martyrdom: Taking advantage of employees by giving them unreasonable workloads and punishing them for not delivering will give rise to martyrdom among the workforce. This can be counteracted by monitoring work hours and efficiency, creating a positive climate in which expectations are reasonable and good performance is rewarded adequately.
  1. Impatience: If rushing and constantly falling behind schedule are regarded as normal, and employees are too busy for vacations or lunch breaks, the obstacle at play is impatience. Better planning, encouraging breaks and vacations, reducing stress and supporting employees are essential.
  1. Stubbornness: In companies with an authoritarian hierarchy and a top-down management, where the rules are carved in stone and the staff is not consulted, stubbornness can have free reign. By encouraging personal responsibility, listening to employees’ suggestions and embracing change, this obstacle can be mastered.


For more information on obstacles, including detailed strategies to overcome them, read Carita Nyberg’s eBook Overcome Your Obstacles.

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