We all have had major presentations in front of our peers that determine whether or not we will be fit for the next promotion, whether we contribute effectively to the team, where we feel the pressure to succeed.
Overloaded, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, some of us make it through these pressure moments and others fail.
As a matter of fact, leaders and employees are constantly under pressure in corporate:
their time is under custody,
the customers require quality product in record time,
the teams need expertise,
teams compete against each other at all levels,
teams bully one member of their team,
teams, stakeholders and organizations have high expectations,
the market is unstable or the company is downsizing,
each individual applies pressure on themselves to succeed…
Wondering how to handle, minimize the effects of these pressure moments at work and moreover how to control your reactions to them?
Pressure is indeed independent from the work class and social status. Pressure affects creativity and productivity.
Pressure is much more visible when starting a new job. We feel obliged to fit in and show our contribution to the team and we tend to overdo ourselves.
We arrive early, we live late, we work harder than the rest, meet expectations, make mistakes which leads to anxiety and stress.
Therefore, the desire to perform better, the need for results are pressing which deepens the stress: we stop trusting our main competencies and like Boxer the horse in George Orwell’s, we just start to work harder.
However, in reality, by working harder, you have great work ethic but you are no longer considered as a team player, a thinker or strategist and therefore become expendable.
The impacts of pressure?
Everyone has a threshold for pressure. There are definitely two types of pressure: the one we impose on ourselves and the one people put on us.Pressure can have a negative effect on people: aggressiveness, loss of appetite, insomnia, headache, back pain, and stress.The term stress was first adopted by Hans Selye in 1936 and is defined as a feeling of inability to respond to high stake demands in critical situations.Stress is a fundamental human reaction, rooted in our self-preservation instincts, that impacts our cognitive health, clouds our decision-making process and our judgement, compromises our perceptions and behavioral skills, and lowers our abilities.It leaves people cold, uptight, defensive, with the feeling of quitting everything. However, stress is not all bad. Stress provides adrenaline for those who are lacking motivation. In addition, poorly managed stress will eventually damage someone’s career, collaboration, trust and can results in absenteeism, and chronic health problems.
How to perform under pressure?
As a leader, your behavior in pressure moments, impacts those around you and can predict their performance.Leaders and employees tend to under-perform under pressure because:
the situation is critical for them and their survival,
the situation is critical for others and for the organization,
they fear that people will judge, criticize or reject them due to the outcome of their performance,
the outcome of their performance is unknown,
their environment is hostile and threatening.
Performing under pressure is a skill and can therefore be learnt. Below are 16 tips to improve your performance under pressure:
Analyze the situation and your behavior. Take a step back, seek deeper insights in your thoughts and behaviors to identify stress triggers, weigh out the outcomes of the situation. How important is this situation for you?
Focus on the task and not the results. It is necessary to clearly define your objectives by writing them down on paper beforehand. Objectives must be concrete, measurable and have an expected outcome. As a result, you are apt to stay in the present, not be distracted and most importantly take your time on the task.
Remember your past success and current qualities, before and during critical situations, to understand that your worth is not intrinsic to the situation and to pass through the situation as a whole.
Control the controllable factors (like your reactions to the situation) and release what you cannot control. Worrying about people or events beyond your control is a waste of energy.
Find coping mechanism and back up plans to avoid reproducing the same mistakes.
Anticipate all the potential obstacles before beginning the task to prepare for the worst, make a list of solutions and implement them before debuting the task. For example, when the waters are calm, write down the essential procedures.
Become insensitive to pressure by subjugating yourself to it as often as necessary, until the performance becomes automatic.
Remain positive and visualize the pressure moment as a challenge or fun experience, an opportunity to showcase your talents. Embracing stressful situations builds self-confidence, energize, boosts motivation, allow you to perform at your authentic level.
Believe that there will be many more opportunities coming our way, by seeing the moment as training session for the right opportunity.
Assume strictly positive outcomes of the stressful situation and speak positivity into reality.
Practice a relaxation technique: breathe, look and listen to the noises around you, take full advantage of your breaks. or just listen to music.
Avoid useless and unproductive interactions if you can. If you are unable to avoid negative interactions, isolate the information that you need from the interaction. Write down that information and do not rely on memory or distorted thoughts.
Recognize that the pressure that you are receiving from someone else has nothing to do with you.
Take responsibility for your actions, admit and accept your errors when things don’t go your way.
Make sleep a priority. When feeling tired or fatigued, switch tasks, start with the most complex one in the beginning of the day and make to do lists before the end of each day.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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