Does working under pressure affect our performance?

By Carlos Onyango / June 29, 2019 | 12:44 am




People tend to react to situations differently depending on a lot of things, especially when they are dealing with an issue or are supposed to beat a certain deadline.

Most of us tend to fare best when a task is neither so simple as to be boring nor so hard as to produce anxiety.

“People are more productive under moderate pressure. “We can ask ourselves questions like; Which people? Productive in what sense? What kind of pressure?

“Yerkes-Dodson Law” holds that there is an ideal level of arousal for performing a given task. If the task is complex, there’s often an inverted-U relationship. This is to mean that a medium level is better than either too little or too much.

The end results would obviously prove whether an issue they are dealing with affects them positively or negatively.

On the other hand, time pressure, that is working towards meeting a set deadline can be crucial in giving out results.

Some researchers recommend that employers and managers be mindful that employees are not working faster or longer too often. They suggest that organizations should provide training on more health-promoting coping strategies.

Organizational culture can also encourage high use of these strategies. The researchers also recommend that executives work to minimize the expectations to work longer and value employees’ time needed to recover, such as lunch breaks and family time.

Certainly, there may be times when working faster or longer is needed, but it is best for employees, and organization as a whole if these strategies are used minimally and work-life balance is prioritized.

In other words, time pressure on the job can also be experienced as a challenge leading to a sense of growth and achievement. Our reaction probably will depend not only on the amount and type of pressure but also on the context in which it occurs. For example, did we choose to do whatever it is we’re doing? Any given challenge is more likely to be experienced as stressful—and unproductive—if it was imposed on us.

Our definition of pressure may also differ. For example, as an employee, you would define pressure by considering the consequences that you may face if you don’t complete a given task. Losing your job and you are maybe the breadwinner is a serious pressure driver.

The following are important points to note when dealing with situations as pointed out by  Alfie Kohn The Homework Myth :

  1. It’s challenging to keep doing something tedious for a long time, particularly without making mistakes, but that’s “hard” in a different way than a task for which one lacks the requisite skill or information.
  2. Your own experience bears out this difference between arousal and anxiety.
  3. “The tendency to avoid failure…functions to oppose and dampen the tendency to undertake achievement-oriented activities.

To conclude, “There are all too many things that could kill you, don’t kill you, and then leave you considerably weaker.” Well, these are not my words but are Christopher Hitchens’. We all have best working environments; we just need to identify and above all embrace them.







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