Team Pressure – What is the Right Amount A Leader Should Give?Ramon Ray
Contributor Shweta Jhajharia is a leading expert in the business consultancy industry. She’s been recognized for her accomplishments with over 70 awards throughout her career and is with Growth Idea.
Applying pressure to your team with hopes of speeding up success is a delicate balance.
When you have the pressure of an overbearing superior demanding instant results, it takes an extremely resolute and disciplined individual to refuse to wilt.
Knowing what’s best for your team – what buttons to press, how hands-on to be and when to exert pressure – is the result of years and years of experience. And this kind of know-how is difficult to attain.
But if you’re just moving into a leadership or management role – or you’re wor/ing in a completely alien environment with a new group of people – how can you be sure of the right levels of pressure to exert?
It’s important to note that the right approach is context dependent but there are general principles you can follow that will stand you in good stead regardless of the personnel you’re in charge of.
In this piece, we’ve identified a few rules of thumb that’ll allow you to maximise the performance of your team.
Productive range of distress
Team leaders should be aiming to exert a moderate amount of pressure on their team. It should be enough to motivate employees to strive to achieve their goals, hit their deadlines and generally yield positive results for the business. If, however, you tip the scales too far, employees can be immobilised by stress.
Ideally, stress levels should be somewhere in the middle. This is what Dr John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, calls the ‘productive range of distress.’ At the right level, stress will induce your employees to work diligently towards a goal without overburdening them.
What telltale signs suggest an employee isn’t being pushed enough?
Habits can be incredibly difficult to break. When an employee becomes overly comfortable in their job, they can become stubbornly resistant to change. If they’ve previously felt unchallenged, they might mount a sizeable defence to any calls for change. Convincing them of the merits of a change in direction can be an insurmountable obstacle.
When you’re trying to revitalise a stagnant workplace environment, you have to be cognisant of this opposition.
That opposition, in itself, is an indication that they haven’t been put under enough pressure.
How to know when you’ve pushed employees too far?
Stress can be a powerful motivational tool. If you don’t use it as judiciously as you should, you can create an unhealthy working environment that stifles your employees. You still need to support your employees as much as possible. Burnout is a staggeringly common occurrence and you can run the risk of catalysing its arrival with an overbearing approach.
Ultimately, exerting the correct levels of pressure is contingent on the personnel you’re in charge of. Recruiting the right people will obviously play a key role, but make sure you take the time to get to know every member of your team – what conditions allow them to thrive, which leadership approaches they bristle at, how much responsibility they like to shoulder – will give you the best possible chance of leading them in a positive, fruitful and successful direction.
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