Another international football tournament, another premature English exit. According to former Italy international Gianluca Vialli, the Three Lions’ latest humiliation comes down to the inability of English players to cope with pressure. The Italians, on the other hand, apparently “eat pressure for breakfast”.
In the interview with the BBC he said that pressure was made up of three things: expectation, scrutiny and consequence. It’s an interesting concept that is highly applicable to the workplace. For teams that struggle to deal with pressure at work managers can do much to help.
With that in mind, here are some useful techniques and advice on ways you can help your team perform when the heat is on.
1. Be consistent
England as a nation and a team often have two years of mild depression accompanied by no expectation and no support and then suddenly one month before a big tournament there is a massive expectation to win. The contrast is unbalancing. As a manager it’s important that you manage your team’s understanding of the expectations upon them in a consistent manner. Make sure they really understand the regular standard of performance you expect.
2. Set realistic expectations
Likewise, while setting high standards can sometimes be a great motivator, providing a clear understanding of a project’s chances of success and failure will help to relieve pressure and prevent unnecessary allocation of time and resources.
3. Watch your levels of scrutiny
England experience extraordinary levels of scrutiny with little support. Much of which can only have a negative impact on their performance. Once your project at work is in motion, a key aspect of effective management is to be available to lend the right level of support. This means finding the right blend of involvement and delegation and providing feedback without overly scrutinising or criticising your team’s efforts.
4. Be clear about the consequences
Pressure and the stress that accompanies it are often the result of overestimating (or just as easily underestimating) the consequences that come with success or failure. It is a manager’s job to mitigate this and ensure the worst and best case scenarios are clearly outlined from the start.
Doing the above might not turn your team into world beaters overnight (you can only do so much with the resources available after all), however, helping your team to navigate potential pressure hot spots should help to get the best out them and boost your own chances of success.