You may be surprised at how the stress level can affect the performance of a team or organization.
This is especially true for roles that require a high degree of judgment and clarity. Stressful, fast-paced environments can trigger brain responses that aren’t favorable for higher thinking and logic. When stressed people go back to their default settings and their primitive responses to their state, it is unlikely they will make good decisions or be able to make sound judgments.
It is because of this that the most successful leaders seem to be able to manage stress well. What do we do when pressure is affecting the performance of our team members? How can we reverse this negative state?
A merchant bank in crisis: The story
We were called to an equities and derivations firm at a merchant bank in trouble a few years back.
It’s hard to find a more stressful environment than this: high volumes of work and volatile markets. Team members had to work together to make decisions. Although this had been a great success in the past, it was starting to strain.
The crisis situation was caused by a fractured leadership team, which was non-collaborative, unmotivated, and driven by their own agendas. This was underpinned by a lack of honesty, respect, and loyalty to team members. The group appeared like a warring tribe from the outside.
We all know what happens when this happens: significant conflict and a decline in morale and performance.
How to address the issue
Understanding the problem is the first step to solving it. Interviewing members of the team to get their perspectives on the problem is a common way to do this. It may also be possible to speak with colleagues outside the department who are familiar with the issue.
We found a number of issues within the leadership group: a lack of commitment between the teams; low levels of honesty and reactive responses between people; lack of respect between leaders; poor communication among silos between team members; lack of ownership over leadership roles; and low interpersonal skills.
Once this was established, it was possible to implement a series of group-structured processes that were then embedded with individual coaching sessions. This was mainly done to create a more collaborative and high-functioning leadership team that is more committed to their colleagues and the tremendous team.
Frameworks based on neuroscience findings help explain brain function and human behavior. There are common conclusions that can be used to benefit all members of the team.
These frameworks can be used to increase emotional intelligence and encourage people to consider the needs of others when making decisions. It also encourages honesty, respect and raises awareness about individual worldviews and their impact on performance and other aspects.
These frameworks can also lead to greater engagement with the leader’s vision and improved communication and strategies for dealing with future conflicts.
If you have any of these problems, you may be experiencing stress in your organization. This can lead to a decrease in performance. It is possible to reverse it.