What is the Impact of Stress on Performance?

Man at computer and stress is impacting his performance.

Is there an impact of stress on performance? Yes; of course. You may think it is always a negative impact but that is not always the case. We actually need some stress in order to reach our ideal performance.

The stress we are talking about today is when it is too high and for too long. In that scenario, performance falls off.

How do we minimize the impact of too much pressure? First, we need to understand the correlation of stress to performance.

Inverted-U Model or Yerkes-Dodson Law

The Yerkes-Dodson Law correlates the impact of stress on performance. It illustrates there is an ideal amount of stress where the best output is achieved.

Without enough stress, boredom sets in and output is low. Conversely, with too much stress, anxiety sets in, and performance again is low.

Here is a fascinating thing, the inverted u-curve is not static. It is dynamic. We can help shift the curve for our teams with continued practice and mastery of skills.

What this means for us and our teams is that we can handle more stress before performance degrades. That is great news!

Skill Mastery and Margin

Another benefit of skill mastery is it provides margin for any “shrinkage” of performance. Let’s face it, sometimes we are in survival mode and barely keeping our head above water.

If we have expanded our skills and habits then should we have a temporary slip, there is margin to absorb it without negative impact on the customer experience.

Survival Mode Warning Signs – Watch Your Metrics

So how do you know if your team has been in survival mode too long? Watch your metrics and perk up your observation skills for the following warning indicators:

  • Increase in longer calls
  • More calls beginning with an immediate hold
  • Customers expressing increased frustration
  • Politeness and courteous tone dropping off

Take Action

Finally, do something! Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away. Some action steps you may need to take include:

Your team, customers, and your business will thank you!

3-Step Plan for Peak Performance

Coach watching practice with a playbook to obtain peak performance.

How seriously do you take the training of your team, ensuring your business excels in all scenarios? We need to take a lesson from sports teams as they are masters of this process. They follow 3P’s for peak performance. I appreciate Jack Daly providing the alliteration for the steps. The plan is to have a professional coach, practice regularly, and execute according to a playbook.

Professional Coach

Athletic teams would never consider entering the “fields of friendly strife” without having a coach. Think of athletes, top performers, and teams. Many times there are numerous coaches or trainers, each with their own specialty.

Your business teams are the same way. In a medical office, there are clinicians and administrative team members. They do not use the same skills to perform their duties. Different segments in your business have different needs. Liken this need to a football team having both offensive and defensive coaches.

So what does a coach do for your team? A coach/consultant provides accountability, guidance, and broader insights than your own.

Finally, a coach provides a neutral observation vantage point. They are not so close or emotionally sucked in and can extract themselves from internal bias.

The options are many, but to help you start thinking of the areas for your business, consider the following strategic segments:

  • Financial and business planning and development
  • Phone and in-person communication
  • Sales
  • Clinical efficiency
  • Patient insurance and finances
  • Human resources
  • Marketing


You know the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Another is, “We do not rise to the occasion, we fall back on our training.”

Then why do we fail to schedule practice time? Do you think a sports team would go through a season only playing games? No way!

Practice consumes well over 90% of the athlete’s time. During the active season, an NBA player may have three games a week but have a 60-hour work week. The 3 hours of regulation time is a mere 5% of their work week.

I am not saying we need the same ratio of practice to game time, but what if we simply did the opposite proportion? What if we practiced 5% of the time? For a 40-hour work week that is a mere 2 hours. Break that down further and that is about 25 minutes per workday.

Schedule this time. Sharpen the saw. Run through scenarios. Never be caught off guard. Be intentional.


Professional athletes and teams have intentional habits, plays, and routines. Do you?

It is not enough to tell your team to, “Just do your best.” Shoot…that is leaving things to chance. We may as well be like the vultures from Disney’s Jungle Book…”Whatcha wanna do?” No plan at all.

Processes and systems are the building blocks of the playbooks for offices. With them, anyone can be trained efficiently and to a standard. It also keeps you from being out of luck when a person is out or moves on from the team.

A great way to document your playbook is to use a platform that not only serves as a repository of the systematic steps, but allows visibility and transparency into the execution of the process.

One such platform adapted for orthodontic offices is 360Matrix.

Plan for Peak Performance

Yes, you are busy. Sure, you may be a small business. Or, you may be a large business. But not taking action is simply an excuse.

Commit to ONE thing within this next week.

Maybe you need to determine your area of greatest need and explore your options for a coach/consultant. Another option is to take a first step of committing to a practice routine and put a team practice on the schedule — Or, consider one scenario, script, or process in your office that finally document it.

You decide, but START and DO ONE THING.

Stop saying what you will do and start doing what you say.

~Amy Demas

Finally remember, doing just one thing means you moved one step closer to peak performance and one step away from p**s poor performance.