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.

The good side of performance appraisals.

The good side of performance appraisals.


The good side of performance appraisals

May 2014
in employment
Reference: Performance Appraisal;; what is human resource
Performance appraisals have a rather uncomfortable association with judgement. The performance of the employee is, after all, being appraised – similes for which are valued, judged, assessed or evaluated. As such employees tend to feel defensive and stressed at the prospect of an appraisal.

The evaluation element of the appraisal is important to the organisation. It allows them to check that the employee has understood the requirements of the role, is aware of objectives and is achieving them; it enables comparison with the progress of other employees and it gives them information on the effectiveness of their recruiting process – how are recruits we brought on two years ago doing now? A performance appraisal enables them to understand the balance of talent across the organisation, determine organisational training needs and is often the only way that organisations can determine who gets the promotions and the rewards.

However, performance appraisals have other clear benefits to the employee and ultimately the manager and the organisation that are not about comparison or evaluation against a scale. 

This is your chance to be formally recognised for your achievements. So filling in that form correctly and being very clear about what you have done is vital. That recognition is not just a box-ticking exercise it is what gives you the motivation to achieve more. It will make you feel more valued, part of the team, more committed to your role and the organisation and your job satisfaction will increase.

This is not about your being labelled as someone that ‘requires development’, but about putting forward the case that you’d like the opportunity to train in a specific area. Discussing your career aspirations with your manager could also highlight areas that you need to develop to achieve your longer term goals. The performance appraisal is your chance to develop and progress. 

One-on-one time
Getting your supervisor’s undivided attention for this amount of time is likely to be a rare occurrence so this is your opportunity to talk about issues that might not otherwise be addressed. It is a chance to discover what you need to work on to make sure you continue to get better and better. Think carefully about what you need to talk about and don’t waste your time together.

So the next time you are facing an appraisal remember that this is not simply about a judgement of your efforts; it is also a mechanism to allow you to improve your job satisfaction, motivation, progress and overall well-being at work. For more information on Appraisal systems or coaching for performance contact Claire or Margaret on 07771 332204.

When it comes to taking notes, write; don’t type

Lecture halls and conference and meeting rooms are littered these days with the glowing screens of attendees’ laptops and tablets. We no longer politely ask our audience to turn off their devices because they are, in fact, taking notes on them. But should they be?

According to a study by psychologists at Princeton University, we remember much more about what we write than what we type when we take notes.

The study involved 65 students, watching TED lectures, in small groups, armed with either a laptop or pen and paper. They then completed three ‘distractor tasks’ and after 30 minutes had to answer factual and conceptual questions on the lectures they had watched.

Both performed well on the factual recall questions such as “approximately when did an event occur?”, but the laptop users performed significantly worse on the conceptual questions, such as “how did given approaches differ?” The pen users also had much better recall of the conceptual items than the laptop users one week later, after they were both given a chance to review their notes.

Notes taken by laptop users were longer, but they contained more verbatim overlap with the lecture. The results suggest that when we take notes by hand we tend to process information more effectively and select the most salient points to record. When we type we have a tendency to “mindlessly” transcribe what we hear. And even when the students were, in a later study, specifically told not to produce verbatim notes, they still did. This indicated that the medium encouraged a form of note-taking that diminished learning.

Pam Mueller, lead author of the study, does not anticipate a mass return to notebooks because of the results, but they may encourage people to take advantage of stylus technologies, which combine optimal note-taking strategies with electronic storage of information. 

If you know anyone panicking about exams or study hypnotherapy is an amazing way to open the mind and calm nerves. Call me today for more information. Claire 07771 332204.

Look at the table below, are you more left or right? Left are agile leaders. Agile leaders are people who lead well in a wide range of circumstances, especially new, changing, ambitious environments. Image


If you are a manager in charge of managing and implementing a change, the fact that people resist it can be just downright frustrating. This is particularly true if you believe in the change and see the true value of it to the employees and the company.

But there will always be people that resist change, however irrational they may seem to you and as such it is worth investing a little time in the psychology of that resistance.

Firstly, some people are just built like that. According to research:
• Around a quarter of people will be enthusiastic about the change and see it as an opportunity.
• About half will just wait and see what happens.
• And the remaining quarter will be made up of cynics that say “yes, but” a lot and a very small, but alarming minority that may try to sabotage your efforts.

Identify them as early as possible. The Enthusiasts are your allies. They will help you drive the change and bring as many other people round as possible. Convince the cynics, particularly if they are a respected member of a group as they will convince other cynics and you need to sway that middle 50%. The angry minority will likely never change so you just have to ignore them or offer them an exit strategy.

So get the enthusiasts on board and get inside the heads if those resisting.

Change engenders strong emotions in people and what may seem patently irrational to you, is perfectly rational to them, so there is no point in preaching. You have to see it from everybody’s point of view: consider whether the change might threaten their status, their skill levels and their comfort zone; consider their previous experience of change and how it was managed; ask yourself what they stand to gain or lose from this implementation. Think about the way the vision has been communicated to them – do they really understand what the change will mean for them in practice? Do they feel they have no control or does it just seem too complex to them?

Very often emotions will overrule intellect so it’s important you get under the skin of those emotions. Help them to see the advantages for themselves, encourage them to discuss the change. The earlier you can get people involved in the decisions regarding tools or training, for example, the more likely they are to accept it. Humans tend to support what they help to create.

The more you understand about the people you are asking to change the more successful your change will be.


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