100s of research (google it) show that performance pressure negatively impacts performance and well-being. Nobody performs well under constant pressure!
Yes, there have been cases where we all performed rather well under pressure, and I hear that all the time from people: "I work well under pressure". Well, not really. You deliver well under pressure occasionally and try to apply those rare occasions to every day.
The conventional perspective has often regarded performance pressure as an indispensable element of achieving excellence. We advised individuals that to excel, they needed to acquire the ability to manage pressure effectively, emphasising that their handling of it would be pivotal to their career's outcome. However, there has been minimal discussion about whether this pressure could have detrimental effects on individuals.
So we march on, trying to convince ourselves that we are good at handling pressure in the long run. We listen to podcasts, read books to learn techniques or mediate because we were told this is how you handle pressure. Some engage in destructive behaviour or alcohol, drugs or sex without knowing what led them to this behaviour. I have seen people changing their principles, going from dressing conservatively to provocatively or undergoing plastic surgery because fitting in is seen as a performance.
All those corporate goals, KPIs, and carefully manipulated need us to perform because if we don't, we are nobody. Performance is equated with titles, social status, bonuses, and corporate results, behaving according to the made-up competency framework or the latest leadership style.
There is nothing wrong with goals or pressure; the problem is its continuous and multiple nature. It is constant, and it comes from all directions! Even pressure cookers require the knowledge of how to use it, yet organisations don't know anything about the pressure they keep the workforce under and its impact on them.
So we break. Neither animals nor humans are designed to handle constant pressure, yet somehow, we forget to include this in our employee engagement or well-being agendas.
While keeping your team's eyes on the goal, it is very important that their daily lives don't revolve around constantly pursuing it because it is burning them out.
When I joined hospitality in 2003, the industry was enjoyable to work in. It was about getting the job done, interacting with guests, providing good service and having fun. During big functions, when we had those cheeky drinks often with our managers, we didn't end up with HR the next day. It wasn't about how much money we made on the night and how that took us closer to achieving the monthly budget.
Today, hoteliers no longer have this joy! In fact, they completely forgot about how to enjoy work. Their day is all about satisfaction KPIs, online reviews, revenue, growth, profit, occupancy and HR compliance, along with their forced engagement. I felt this back in 2014 when I left operation. I hated it! And the reason I hated it was because of the constant performance pressure related to KPIs.
Organisations are so focused on their goals and KPIs that they cannot even see the damage it does to the workforce.