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!

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