Performing Under Pressure

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Performing Under Pressure

What is a bigger challenge – The Pressure or the Deliverable?

With years of experience, it becomes apparent that ‘Performance’ and ‘Pressure’ are two things to be dealt with. One is to manage the pressure we feel and second, is to perform successfully despite the pressure.

The degree of pressure that is felt for the same deliverable may also be different for different people. Some of us may feel the pressure with everything that gets added to our plate or every change that pops up. For some of us it may take a lot more to feel pressured.

Pressure comes in various forms – amount of work to be done, the complexity of work to be done, unrealistic deadlines, resource crunch, our capability and sometimes our state of mind and energy levels.

Irrespective of the degree or the form of pressure, the fact remains that Pressure is more difficult to deal with than the task or the deliverable.

It’s the pressure we “feel” that depletes our ability, energy, and creativity to deal with the deliverable. If we had not “felt” the pressure, the deliverable may have got done despite the barriers of time, complexity, resources, and/or abilities. When we are not under pressure, we have the energy and the creative reserves to problem solve.

Here are some simple workarounds to tackle the “feeling of pressure”.

Take a step back, reflect and identify:

  • The cause of pressure.
  • Is it a perceived or real pressure? Sometimes, when we are very occupied, any new addition can seem like another big thing to handle. Reflect on whether it really is large or just clouding our thinking.
  • Evaluate what resources it will take. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed by the pressure and, it turns out, the task was simple to accomplish.
  • Identify a senior in the team who could help you break down the tasks – try to get as much data and understanding of the objectives and what is required to kill any last minute pressure.
  • Understanding the requirement will help easing the panic that it arises, it also will help to understand, evaluate and assess your resources and the support you may require.
  • Share the feeling of pressure – let off the steam.

Once you understand the requirement in depth, half your troubles are done. In terms of executing, there will be a hundred doubts and risks. That’s when you need to focus all your energies to carefully execute it. If you worry, you end up having more reasons to worry!

Take mindful reflective pauses to evaluate areas mentioned above. Sometimes not taking a break under the pressure of timelines, creates more challenges.

Avoid distractions, and we are our biggest distractors! We allow interruptions. We split our focus to look at emails / phone calls while trying to execute a deliverable. Our conscious brain can be productive only when we do not distract it.

It is imperative that we evaluate situations of pressure after they are over and create a plan of action to deal with that proactively. If the same pressure is repeating, you need to really reflect and break the cycle.

If you get pressurized very often – try to assess. WHY is it happening? Often feeling pressure is not your fault, following factors can be major contributors –

  • Requirements are coming in the last minute.
  • Manager is delegating high priority tasks without adequate upskilling.
  • Unavailability of resources.
  • Planning and processes are not adhered to and too many exceptions are coming in.

Try to be clear about the things you feel pressured about. Learn ways to deal with it, especially in a new role. Express that you are feeling the pressure to your manager and Do Not Glorify it.

We hope these steps and insights help you in finding the right path to manage pressure while giving your best performance.

Performing under pressure while managing expectations under stress of a new role is a common challenge faced by first time managers. We understand this issue and have worked with many organizations to solve this problem through our First Time Managers Development program. Learn more here.


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