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Are You Putting Enough Pressure on Your Staff?

Throughout history, executives and leaders have studied to better understand what motivates their employees, and how to push them to achieve their greatest potentials. In 1908, Robert Yerkes and John Dodson developed a model that has stood the test of time. The Inverted-U model, also known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law, shows the relationship between pressure and performance. According to the model, there is a sweet spot where optimal levels of performance are achieved, having too little stress in our lives is un-inspiring for us, but having too much is overwhelming.

If we are assigned a project that is not challenging, is repetitive, or we are not given a deadline, we are more likely to produce subpar outcomes. But on the other end of the Inverted-U, if we are given a task that is impossible to complete, whether it’s because of an unattainable completion date, or the project itself is unreachable due to our skills or training, the result is going to be disappointing.

But to really be a motivational leader, using what we have learned from the Inverted-U Model in addition to an understanding of SOCIAL STYLE will take your workforce to the next level. Tension management is a core aspect of the SOCIAL STYLE & Versatility Model. Training in SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility allows us to understand the behavioral preferences of others, and thus, better accommodate our leadership to motivate them.

For example, an Analytical Style person prefers to be given as much information as possible before starting a project. Analytical Style people do not like to feel overly rushed because they like to have time to thoroughly analyze any data presented to them as well as any data and research they produce. Putting these individuals on a tighter timeframe might overwhelm them, pushing them past the “sweet spot” on the inverted U diagram. This could result in sloppy or incomplete work.

But for a Driving Style person, putting them on a tighter deadline could be exhilarating. These individuals like to compete and they can flourish under a constraint such as a tight deadline.  This is known as the patterns of behavior related to tension.

But what happens if we are putting the wrong kind of pressure on our staff? When people fail to alleviate the tension or pressure placed on them using their traditional methods of tension reduction, they can become flustered and aggravated. This frustration will often move into some sort of extreme behavior to help them deal with the tension buildup. We label that extreme form of interaction as a “Backup Behavior.” Each Style has its own distinctive Backup Behavior that you should be prepared to recognize and deal with appropriately. An Analytical Style person will withdraw themselves to reduce personal tension and a Driving Style person will take charge and disregard the input of others – often missing important insights and information. Once one person is in backup behavior, this can oftentimes result in other people to act in their Backup Behavior. Once a Driving Style person gets irritated and starts rushing through to achieve a deadline or a decision – ignoring other’s opinions or knowledge, this Backup Behavior will likely send the Analytical to their Backup Behavior.

So rather than asking “are you putting enough pressure on your workforce?” the question should be, “are you putting the right kind of pressure on your workforce?” It is important to keep your employees out of the boredom zone and out of the overwhelmed/unhappy zone too, but this is different for each person. Managerial training in SOCIAL STYLE gives leaders the tools to read behavior and assess what is going to motivate them. Having this ability is known as having high Versatility.

People high in Versatility are 26% more effective at positively influencing others and 23% more effective at adapting their interactions to work better with others. Learn more here.

Learn more about the SOCIAL STYLE Model here.

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