What’s your stress type?


‘Guardians’ and ‘integrators’ are more stressed at work in comparison to ‘drivers’ and ‘pioneers’.

Last year, the most searched word on Google was ‘stress’. Starting from poor work organisation, work design and management, to unsatisfactory working conditions, and lack of support from colleagues and supervisors, the reason for this stress can be anything. But whatever the cause, stress is just unavoidable in today’s times.

Different people not only react to this pressure differently, but also deal with it in different ways. Based on a survey with more than 23,000 professionals, Deloitte has typecast people into four different segments. The stress types are defined on the basis of stress levels at work and the respondents’ reaction to workplace stressors. The study found that statistically there was significant variation among these four segments.

Fourteen per cent of those surveyed reported being rarely stressed and 57 per cent reported being stressed sometimes. 26 per cent admitted to being stressed often, and three per cent reported being stressed always.

Around, 82 per cent of the respondents indicated errors as the main cause of stress, while 52 per cent stated a challenging workload, with long hours or juggling of multiple responsibilities as another reason. The other prominent reasons were moments of conflict, such as getting reprimanded or delivering a difficult message (52 per cent); situations that create urgency, such as critical projects or time pressure (46 per cent); face-to-face interactions, such as delivering a presentation or meeting a new stakeholder (45 per cent).

Deloitte has segregated the professionals based on their business chemistry. As per this segmentation, ‘guardians’, who strive for certainty and stability, and ‘integrators’, who value connection, are stressful in all situations. On the other hand, the other two categories — ‘pioneers’, who love to explore and seek possibilities, and ‘drivers’, who love to take up challenges are less stressed at work.

For instance, an urgent assignment goes against a guardian’s preference for deliberate and methodical decision making, and causes stress while the same situation can energise the driver who tolerates risk and favours a brisk work pace.

In another survey of 17,000 professionals, Deloitte discovered that some perform better under stress and become more effective. For instance, a majority of drivers (61 per cent) and pioneers (59 per cent) reported they are most effective when moderately or extremely stressed. In comparison, fewer integrators (51 per cent) and guardians (50 per cent) reported they were most effective at these stress levels.

However, one shouldn’t assume that all’s wrong with the integrators and guardians. Rather, they have their own set of strengths. For instance, these two groups bring particular strengths, such as conscientiousness, strong listening skills and focus on detail, which are also valuable for the team. Their tendency to be sensitive to others’ experiences and reactions can help improve team collaboration and performance, but they are often the most stressed—and overlooked—members of the team.

Guardians and integrators are more likely to internalise mistakes, spending a lot of time reflecting on what they might have done differently, while drivers and pioneers are more likely to brush mistakes off.

This is because guardians are more methodical and deliberate; they look into all and undertake careful decisions. Similarly, integrators try to get inputs from others and reach a consensus in a group, but are unable to maintain the pace of a fast-moving workplace.

Organisations and teams need to pay special attention to their inward-focussed team members to understand what might be done to reduce stress levels.


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Prajjal Saha is the editor and publisher of HRKatha, which he founded in 2015. With nearly 25 years of experience in business journalism, writing, and editing, he is a true industry veteran who possesses a deep understanding of all facets of business, from marketing and distribution to technology and human resources. Along with his work at HRKatha, he is also the author of the Marketing White Book. Thanks to his extensive experience and expertise, he has become a trusted source of insight and analysis for professionals across a wide range of industries.