How to ensure your team performs under pressure

Marlies Pellikaan

The current coronavirus crisis is placing enormous pressure on every team. So how can you make sure that everyone performs under pressure? What factors affect team performance? And how can you make sure that everyone makes the best possible contribution to the overall success of the team? We put these questions to Alyson Annan, head coach of the Netherlands’ women’s hockey team.

How to ensure your team performs under pressure

What is exactly is pressure? Where does it come from? And what is the best way to handle it? Alyson Annan believes that you can use pressure to help your team perform at its best. It is not pressure from the outside that is key here, but rather pressure from within: the pressure to perform, to learn every day and to perform better together as a team in the future. So how do you do this in practice? Alyson Annan shares her thoughts below.

Motivation a key to perform under pressure

It takes more than women who are good with a stick and a ball to make a successful hockey team. You cannot create a winning team without balance, commitment and motivation. Each and every team member must therefore want to be the best if you want to make sure that they will perform under pressure. That does not mean that everyone has to be equally good. It’s about everyone wanting to be the best version of themselves. This may mean that, to the outside world, some players may seem better than others, but every single one of these players is crucial for creating a winning team. So you should always ask your players or employees: how do you help your team move forward? This will help to keep your ‘players’ motivated and your team balanced.

Personal leadership

Every winning team has a good coach or manager. One of the main rules of good coaching is to recognize your team members as a people first and foremost, and then players — if you don’t pay attention to the people within your team, they will not be good players, they will not follow when you will ask them to work harder under pressure and you will not have a winning team. Ask your ‘players’ to work harder, but make sure that you work the hardest. Always be open to feedback, as you need people in your team who will ask questions and not just go along with your decisions. You need people who keep you sharp as a leader. This balance is essential because you will only be able to take your team to the next level by working together.

How to perform under pressure? Embrace change

Change is a necessary part of progress. If the coronavirus crisis has taught us one thing, it is that we must be open to change. The secret of good team performance does not lie in good preparation. No, the secret of good team performance is to embrace change. Albert Einstein is quoted as having said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” And that’s spot on. We can only solve a problem by looking at it in a different way. Monitor, evaluate and create ‘pressure’ in your team by making changes now. Change, improve and stay one step ahead of the competition.

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New habits

Some say that creating new habits is easier said than done. This is true, of course, as change does not happen overnight. It happens in phases and, on the hockey pitch, on the basis of capabilities: from unconsciously incapable to consciously capable. During each phase of the change, players become more aware of the change and more accustomed to it. In this way you can easily create ‘automatic systems,’ or in other words, new habits within your team, such as performing under pressure.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Now that gold medals in hockey seem somewhat elusive, people are feeling demotivated — we can see the same phenomenon happening within the workplace. And that’s okay. Allow it to happen — demotivation is part of life. It’s about how you as a ‘coach’ and the rest of your team handle it. Listen and communicate, but don’t dwell on things for too long. Be open to change, learn new things and look to the future. Set yourself a team goal and work toward it. Good luck!

Want to find out more about performing under pressure?

Thank you, Alyson, for this interesting webinar! Are you keen to find out more about performing under pressure, crisis management, leadership and being a good employer? Each week, Effectory hosts a free webinar covering a topic that is relevant to the times we now live in.

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