5 Ways to Balance Performance Pressure with Compassion

Performance Pressure

It is a well-documented, cold, hard fact that power reduces empathy – and empathy is the foundation of all relationships, including a business’s relationship with its employees.

With the steady scaling of a business, it’s possible that an equal decrease in compassion and an increase in performance pressure may come hand-in-hand. And for businesses, it is critical to close this gap and create a workplace where people can remain … well, humans.

As a manager, it can be challenging to balance the pressure, but finding the balance and evolving what that looks like is going to become increasingly important to long-term success.

Managers must create a positive and supportive work environment where team members feel valued and respected in order to really capture a successful and productive team.

Here are the top 5 ways StellaPop recommends starting to close the gap:

1. Create Compassion

One of the most important things for a manager to do is to recognize that their team members are human beings with their own personal lives, challenges, and aspirations. And sometimes (for all of us), these personal challenges can affect your work. It’s essential for managers to be understanding and empathetic towards these human moments and to actively encourage team members to take time off when needed to recharge and come back to work with renewed energy and focus.

Another important aspect of balancing performance pressure with compassion is to be empathetic and understanding of your team members’ challenges and to actively work towards an aligned performance protocol. It’s essential to recognize and support each team member’s unique abilities and to offer ongoing opportunities for professional development and coaching to help employees work to their highest potential, meet new challenges, and become more and more valuable to the team.

Employees who feel appreciated and valued tend to perform better, feel more confident, and report increased job satisfaction.

2. Prioritize Clear Communication

One of the key ways to balance performance pressure with compassion is to clearly communicate your expectations and goals to your team members. By being transparent about what you expect from your team and how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization, you can help them understand the importance of their role and the need to meet performance targets.

Clearly communicating feedback, praise, and employee value, both positive and constructive, help team members understand how they are performing and where they can improve, which puts clear targets in place. With clear expectations and SMART goals in mind, employees increase their chances of success, retention, job confidence, and job satisfaction.

Managers should also strive to create a positive and inclusive work environment where team members feel valued and respected. Promoting open communication, encouraging collaboration, and recognizing and rewarding team members for their contributions help to foster a positive, respectful team synergy.

3. Reduce Performance Pressure from the Top Down

How can senior leaders keep the heat on in ways that are less pressurized and more motivating?

Helping employees understand why the pressure exists helps them make sense of it. Relatedly, research shows that employees are more motivated and engaged when they have a sense of purpose, so taking the time to help them understand how their work contributes and connects to the organization’s ultimate vision can help alleviate some stress and generate some motivation.

Managers need to create an information flow that brings top leaders across the problem, its extent, what employees are experiencing (in work and in life), and how it affects the overarching team. Bringing some very basic data to the table — such as how many people are experiencing hardships, what kinds of hardships, and what they need in order to cope — makes all the difference. To direct this debrief, managers can use simple team surveys to capture the engagement, concerns, and stress levels of employees.

4. Create a Community

Supporting employees should go beyond a few days off and should focus on creating a community and support system that is built into the operations and ethos of the business. People need multi-dimensional, emotional, physical, and financial support, and many businesses have the ability to help facilitate that greater network of support for employees.

Over the past two years, employee networks have shrunk significantly. For many businesses, as many as 30% of junior employees have joined within the last two years and have quite literally never met another co-worker face-to-face. While this is far from ideal, on the positive side, it means that investments made to help frontline employees connect to each other are more valuable than ever and can have a really big impact on corporate culture moving forward.

Remember, creating support networks (or any other health and wellness-focused target), the up-front cost of those investments is more than offset by long-term benefits, as healthy networks give employees other resources to leverage in dealing with their challenges.

5. Put it into Practice

The most important part: you’ve gotta talk the talk and walk the walk.

It’s also important for managers to lead by example and practice what they preach. Managers who demonstrate compassion and empathy in their interactions with team members are more likely to foster a positive and supportive work environment. Managers who are approachable and responsive to team members’ needs and concerns and who provide constructive feedback are also more likely to be respected and trusted by their team members.

Lead by example, lead with compassion, and watch how corporate culture begins to change!

Looking to create more compassion and connection in your business?

We can help with that.


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