We all know that when we have too much pressure of work, we fail to deliver to the best of our abilities. In fact, too much pressure leads to burnout and that is well known, obvious and makes lots of sense.
However, it may not be so common sense or even intuitive to think that too little pressure can lead to boreout – you may get so bored and perform so little. However, at the mention of it, I am sure it now begins to ring a bell?
That is the reason I want us to focus on the relationship between the increase in pressure and what happens to our performance especially at work or in business. What exactly happens to our performance as the pressure of work load increases? Do we perform better at maximum or minimum pressure?
Let us start from a position where pressure is at zero level. As you begin to increase the pressure of work, your performance will also start to increase, almost proportionally. At this level, you are probably bored as the work is not big enough and you have plenty of idle time–this is a zone where your work pressure is low. Gradually you are becoming busier as workload increases and your performance is getting better with time. This then leads to a situation where you are in control – having graduated from a state of affairs where you were predominantly bored. The state where you are in control is a reasonable state – not bad, not great and pretty good or acceptable. The state where you are in CONTROL happens when your work load is in MODERATE state.
Next level of pressure beyond MODERATE is HIGH pressure. In fact, this is the best level of pressure that breeds optimal performance. In this zone of HIGH pressure, you are STRETCHED and this gets the best out of you. You want and need high pressure to do well. Below this amount of pressure, you are likely to feel quite bored. You might feel empty.
When the pressure is increased further, you get into the VERY HIGH pressure zone. In this zone, you work under strain and this leads to burnout. This is where you are STRAINED and even very stressed. It may lead to disruptive behaviour and all sorts of health issues. We should at all costs avoid reaching this stage of pressure.
What we have described is basically a PRESSURE – PERFORMANCE curve. Now, what does this curve mean for us as workers? First of all, if you are a leader or manager or supervisor, you need to be aware of this for a number of reasons. This curve helps you to know the optimal level of loading work onto your juniors. You know that too little work leads to boredom and too much work leads to burnout. It is clear that if you want optimal performance from your staff, you need to stretch them under HIGH pressure. You should always look out for sings of your staff getting into the VERY HIGH Pressure zone before they can burn out. This is where you need to step in and help them reduce the workload by either cancelling out some of the work, or delaying it or indeed assigning it to other workers.
At an individual level, everyone ought to know this curve very well again for a number of and similar reasons as the manager. It helps you to know the optimal level of work loading that helps you to perform at your best. Probably you will now complain less when you are giving a lot of work and HIGH pressure from your bosses! Quite importantly, this knowledge helps you to know that you need to avoid reaching levels of VERY HIGH pressure because you may burn out and it is dangerous for your health and how you will engage with others.
Good luck as you implement this important knowledge about the relationship between pressure and performance. If you put this to good use, you will surely rise and shine!