Pressure is a constant in modern life​

Pressure is a feature of modern life and never more so than at work. We ask a lot of the people who work for us - continuous improvement, high commitment, loyalty and creativity. Things are no easier outside of work with most people juggling the demands of their employment with family roles, responsibilities and outside commitments. Pressure comes from all around.

Pressure in itself is not however inherently bad. In fact, so long as the pressure remains equal to the coping strategies that we have developed to get us through life’s challenges, then it can be a source of personal growth and satisfaction. When we push the envelope a little and survive to tell the tale we generally feel energised and good about ourselves.

It’s when pressure goes beyond our ability to cope that problems arise and then the outcomes are not so positive. When perceived pressure outstrips our perceived ability to cope, we get the negative outcome of stress.

Pressure - Loss or Gain?

Whether they combine positively or negatively, the implications for satisfaction, contribution, engagement, creativity and attendance are significant. Performance and pressure are directly correlated and this presents both a potential problem and an opportunity.

It is an opportunity because when the level of pressure is felt to be appropriate to the individual then performance is positively impacted. When employees are in the stretch zone they are usually highly engaged, innovative, productive and, so long as they are not permanently stretched in one single direction, highly satisfied and motivated.

Most organisations understand this part of the dynamic, but are not so able to recognise when teams have slid into the strain zone where performance, contribution, satisfaction and psycho-social health are likely to be on the decline.​

Often employers are not aware that there is a problem until pressure has increased to a level where the employee feels overwhelmed, by which time the situation is visible but harder to recover.​

How can WorkingWell help?

We help companies understand where their employees are on the Pressure Performance Curve, where they perceive their pressure comes from and how to manage sources and response to drive positive outcomes.​

​The relationship between the variables in the Pressure Performance process is easily demonstrated in this simple model:

The amount of pressure perceived by the individual is counterbalanced by their coping mechanisms and behaviours. The end of the see-saw can move up or down, depending on the relative weights of the coping and pressure boxes and produce positive growth or negative stress outcomes accordingly.

The see-saw sits on the fulcrum point of the personality triangle, to illustrate that different personality types can amplify or moderate the way we respond to pressure and thus affect the balancing effect of the two factors above and the outcomes we experience.

How do our tools help?

Our tools and approaches enable managers to measure the different elements in the pressure process in order to provide answers to the following:

  • Is pressure being felt as a force for growth or stress - is it producing beneficial or harmful outcomes?
  • Where are the ‘hot spots’? Are some teams more at risk than others?
  • What are our priority areas for improvement?
  • What small steps can we take to start the process of improvement?
  • Which teams are coping well? How do they approach their issues? Can other teams learn from their experience?
  • Can we help individuals change their approach and so get better outcomes for them personally and for the team?

Copyright WorkingWell Limited 2019. 80 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1ET.