Wednesday June 16th, 2021

“If You’re Too Weak, You Can Leave!” About Leaderhsip and Performance

When people and teams are under pressure, the performance of the entire organization is at stake. However, pressure and stress are not whims of fate. They are homemade problems. Caused by unfavorable structures and poor and unprofessional behavior on the part of managers. Time to do things differently.

Cautious estimates say

that four million Germans are affected by pathological stress, which manifests itself in such unpleasant things as circulatory problems, poor sleep, mind spinning, depression, anxiety, musculoskeletal pain, especially back pain or even complete burnout.

It is alarming that the trend to this has been increasing for years.

First and foremost, of course, this is a personal problem for the many affected. But also companies and business, in general, suffer increasingly

One would think that the managers in charge do everything to prevent even the emergence of negative stress. Often, however, the exact opposite is the case. How can that be?

Stress is a truly complex matter

and usually triggered by the emotional, thought and action habits of the individual affected. In general, however, stress-related diseases don’t start with the individual, but rather with the circumstances in his or her environment, especially, of course, in the workplace: work-rich, tense phases without real breaks or unresolved, conflict-ridden conditions that often drag on for long periods of time.

So it is mainly organizational structures that determine whether stress crises occur. The performance and stress competence of individuals play a less important role

And yet we like to leave it exactly to those individual employees and sick alone, to cope with the situation.

No question

often this happens out of unprofessional gruffness: “If you’re too weak, you can leave.”  Mostly, though, this happens because we know next to nothing about social stress dynamics. And out of respect. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone.

What is well-intentioned is very unfortunate for everyone. Because that’s how we make stress a taboo.

And vice versa – this is particularly bitter – in this way we also make health and performance a taboo.

In the best case, we thus only complicate a generally good, healthy, and performance-oriented solution. Mostly, however, we prevent them completely.

The result: the stress level rises and rises, the performance curve is nosediving – within the entire team!

Instead of talking openly about good ways

how satisfaction, health and performance can be possible again and for all, the situation is discussed and whispered about – if at all – in small groups. Affected employees may then return to work after a seemingly restful time off.

But there, the circumstances of the work were not adapted or the structures changed. The conflicts continue to smolder unspoken, so there is no talk of a solution.
Often, there is no fussing around at all: employees are then immediately replaced completely – after all, the show must go on.

Although all act with the best of intentions (presumably)

this way a clear and fatal message is sent to the group: ” Everyone is on his own. No one has to hope for support.”

In social groups, which people join primarily for reasons of solidarity and the need to belong – that is, primarily to secure their existence and self-realization – this is a particularly effective poison of performance, which intensifies the virulent stress or performance crisis to the maximum.

So what to do instead?

It is helpful to take a look at the entire system and, above all, to look specifically at how the management of the company behaves: What guidelines does management set? How are owners and supervisors behaving?

Important: It’s not what they say that’s interesting, but what they do – and what they don’t.

The task of company, department and team management generally

is to ensure that the company can produce and sell profitably. This means that managers have to provide financially viable budgets and clear, realistic, and thus motivating directional guidelines. And a good performance climate.

That’s why it’s important to note that where individuals or entire teams come under pressure or stress, or even fail because of it, managers in particular are not doing their job well enough.

Certainly, they don’t do that intentionally. Why then?

In recent decades

good results have been achieved mainly by optimizing as many processes as possible, and mainly by automating them. The remaining non-automated tasks were distributed among as few and highly specialized people as possible.

Today, this optimization process is largely complete. This means that results can hardly be increased anymore by means of efficiency.

Insights of this kind

are naturally slow to spread in our highly complex economic-social organisms in which people work today. And so it happens that many managers, teams and also self-optimizers still try to solve current problems with means of the past. Even if that means giving their teams and themselves an impossible mission and overstretching themselves and their environment.

With the best of intentions, they fuel those stress crises in which the many millions of people find themselves today. On a large scale, they prevent performance and success.

Because, of course, people and teams are most successful

and most efficient when they are physically, psychologically and mentally well. For this, they need a good, healthy performance atmosphere. Individuals cannot create this on their own, however, and certainly not if they feel permanently under pressure and stress.

So it’s a task for the entire organization, but especially for those whose job it is to create the good conditions I mentioned earlier: The managers. It is THEIR job to find effective (vs. efficient) ways of doing things, which today are more likely to be a team and collaborative-oriented.

How else are organizations supposed to tackle the currently pressing challenges? How else are they supposed to face radical digital transformation, disruption, ever-increasing competition, or the employment crisis with ideas, motivation, and energy?

There is a lot to be said for the fact

that those companies that quickly understand how to rethink their approach to corporate, personal, and community success, collaboration, satisfaction, performance, pressure, and stress, and organize themselves in a way that is less wasteful and more coercive, in other words, better, more focused and – yes – more humane.

To do this, you need a management that aims for real, i.e. lasting, organizational success and also has the courage to take the appropriate steps. Any self-respecting manager will recognize that this is the basis for their good work.

So will we

get a grip on the general performance crisis and everything will be fine?

I, for one, hope for exactly that: Let’s all get well soon!