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Covid-19: The Data on Performing Under Pressure

What has been the impact on performance of Covid-19 and remote working? This short video shows the views of 120 executives captured during virtual pitstops hosted with Smurfit Executive Development UCD and a number of Growth Pitstop’s international clients and partners in the US, UK, Ireland and France between July 1 and August 24 this year.

Key findings:

  • Despite the pressure on performance, one in 4 managers (25%) sees their team as operating at or close to peak performance (70%+).
  • Although many are ‘going flat out’, executives feel that their teams are operating at 64% of their full potential.
  • Every 2nd manager (50%) is concerned about some aspect of focus and alignment. Clarity of direction beyond the next 3 months is required to keep teams engaged.
  • 1 in 4 managers (25%) see availability of resources as a key performance loss at this time. 
  • More than 1 in 3 managers (38%) are concerned with getting their teams set-up to get the work done. But getting the right people in the right roles and doing the right work in the right way has become more complex.
  • Most managers (78%) point to four performance dynamics (cultural – behavioural factors) as most important at this time, including: Trust & Respect and Discipline and Persistence.

Where to turn for inspiration when performance is under pressure Well, perhaps the performance-obsessed arena of Formula One™. Here we leverage ideas and principles from the racetrack for success in the executive suite at this time of chaos and uncertainty.  In particular the concept of effective mid-race adjustment to sustain performance under pressure. 

Want to know more about the Pitstop process, & model? Start your exploration here.

Fascinating Insight:

We believe that good data stimulates thinking. That is certainly true of the data above. The following are among the insights / questions it raises:

  • The % of full performance potential exploited remains at its pre-COVID-19 levels. Isn’t that fascinating? People can still see lots of potential even when they are in the middle of a crisis. This is good news.
  • Going ‘flat out’ in terms of work load and levels of stress or pressure, does not mean operating in the ‘zone of peak performance’. Indeed, too much pressure can damage long term performance.
  • Teams that had challenges with effective collaboration have seen those challenges magnified. When you look at the source of performance losses and gains before and after the crisis began, some interesting patterns emerge. In particular, it appears that remote working has amplified performance losses turning what was an amber rating (minor performance loss) to a red (major one) in many cases.
  • Remote working is so monumental an organizational change that it could have taken months, even years to implement. Yet, it was foisted on us almost overnight. It is hardly surprising, that getting the right people in the right role and doing the right work is proving a challenge. This applies to ‘business as usual’ activities, as well as to strategic projects.
  • In times of anxiety and uncertainty we would normally turn to each other for support. But what happens when we are working remotely and that support may not be available to us?
  • The disappointing figures on Trust & Respect suggests that many executives cannot turn to their leaders or perhaps even colleagues. High trust means lower fear, but that is not evident from this set of data.
  • When you scatter a team or a workforce, it is natural that issue of focus and alignment would arise. The focus and priorities have changed as a result of Covid-19, but it appears that they are not always being discussed and adjusted effectively.
  • Despite all the communications tools at our disposal (e.g. Slack, Teams and Zoom) effective communication remains a challenge for remote working.
  • Could it be that remote working requires greater discipline and persistence? That appears to be a challenge for many leaders and their teams.

 

 

A big thank you to Caroline Kinsella, Smurfit Executive Development at UCD, Dave Gribben, Below the Line & John Murphy of JMI International who supported the Virtual Pitstop process and data analysis.

Interested in finding out more?  Please email us at: support@growthpitstop.com. To view one of the online pitstops that generated this data click here.

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