How to Balance Pressure and Performance Using the Inverted-U Model
There are four main factors that influence how well people work under pressure.
How do you get the best from people, and keep them happy and engaged in their work?
One way to do this is to consider the balance between pressure and performance.
We do our best work when we experience the right amount of pressure. But if there's too much pressure – or too little – our performance can suffer.
This relationship is demonstrated in the Inverted-U Model.
Take a look at the Inverted-U diagram.
On the left side of the graph, people are under-challenged. They see no reason to work hard, and they feel bored and unmotivated.
The center of the graph is the area of peak performance. Your team is working hard, but it's not overloaded.
The right side of the graph shows where people start to "fall apart" under pressure. They're overwhelmed by competing demands, and they might be starting to panic.
There are four main factors that influence how people perform under pressure. They are Skill Level, Personality, Trait Anxiety, and Task Complexity.
Your Skill Level directly affects how well you perform. If you are not skilled enough to do a task, you'll feel under serious pressure, and you won't perform well.
Trait Anxiety is your level of "self-talk." If you're self-confident, your self-talk is under control, and you can concentrate fully on your work. But, if you constantly criticize or question yourself, you can lose focus in pressurized situations.
Task Complexity is the level of attention and effort required to complete a task successfully.
You can perform simple activities under quite high levels of pressure, but complex activities are better performed in a low-pressure environment.
So, use the Inverted-U Model when you allocate tasks and projects to your team.
If team members are overloaded, reducing the pressure on them will increase the quality of their work.
And, if they're underworked, keep them sharp by setting shorter deadlines or finding more for them to do.
Aim to balance the influences that contribute to pressure. Give team members tasks and projects of an appropriate level of complexity. Work to build up their confidence, and provide training where necessary.
To learn more about the Inverted-U Model, read the article that accompanies this video.