Into the Pitlane
How to Optimize Performance While Going ‘Flat-Out’?
You have been running on adrenaline since the Covid crisis began. But many months have passed and much of the adrenaline is now gone. How does that leave you and your team feeling?
Well, perhaps a little flat. That, in turn, may worry you – the Covid crisis is far from over and you need to be at the top of your game now as much as ever. Indeed, things may get worse before they get better.
Back in March when the world was thrown upside down there may have been too much adrenaline. Fast-forward 8 months and there may now be too little.
Keeping the adrenaline dial ‘in the middle' can be a challenge, especially when you want to keep a cool head (and see things clearly). That is during the day, but it is also important to get the balance right if you want to sleep well at night.
The question is: How to manage and sustain levels of energy – not just in the short term but into next year too?
Our recommendation is to take a Pitstop with your team – that is tackle the issue of energy levels systematically*. However, we also asked a variety of leaders for techniques that work for them.
In this series called ‘Performance Under Pressure’ we explore the impact of Covid-19 and Remote working on the success of critical projects and vital teams.
Let’s start with the Top 5:
- Clarify priorities and purpose. With so much noise and interference, staying on course can be a challenge. I find it is really important to have a clear set of priorities that gives our work meaning and purpose. We track progress against these key priorities every week and it gives our team a sense of progress and momentum.
- ‘Play the ball in front of you'. With so much uncertainty I find it helps to focus on what needs to be done now – that is on the short term.
- Pull together as a team. The only way we will get through this crisis is by leaning on and supporting each other. People's energies wax and wane at different stages – that means when you feel low on energy others can give you a boost.
- Step back and take stock – acknowledge the wins and make peace with (and learn from) the losses. In the process ask others for their perspective. It is at times like this that having a coach really helps.
- Don't be afraid to be vulnerable – In times of uncertainty, a leader who can be vulnerable could have the edge. A leader who proclaims, ‘things are fine' or even ‘things are great', discourages self-doubt and as a result silences team members. They also miss out on opportunities for improvement.
Adrenaline is one of over 200 plus interconnected performance-related variables that we enable teams to analyze, optimize and track. It is key to performance under pressure.
More Ways to Sustain Energy
Here are some of other ‘pearls of wisdom' offered by leaders on the topic of energy and adrenaline:
- I am doing a Brenee Brown on it – I find myself saying ‘I am not sure' and ‘I don't know' a lot more. That reduces the pressure on me to have all the answers. It also encourages others to share their ideas and tackle their own obstacles.
- Check on what is draining your energy – For me it is endless zoom meetings (especially into the evening) that add little value. When you identify the factors tackle them – stop them from stealing your energy.
- ‘We are in the lemonade business!' said the leader of a key strategic project that had been moving ‘full steam ahead' before the crisis, but then struggled to maintain momentum since the crisis began. Quoting Dale Carnegie the leader explained ‘it is about making the best of things – if all you have is lemons then make lemonade!' ‘If we lose 6 months or a year because of the Covid then that is a reality that we are going to have to accept' he added.
- Learning – I set a personal goal for my own learning and development. That has fueled my passions and given me a sense of progress. I also find that learning quells anxiety and it focuses your the brain on something else.
- Focus on doing something for someone else. Being focused on one's own problems can consume too much energy. Doing something that helps others can give new energy and hope.
- Different types of energy – I prefer not to talk about being tired or low on energy. As I see it, there are different kinds of energy – the fast-paced excitement that is required in kicking off a new project or initiative and the frustration or anxiety which may be required to steel the determination or discipline to see it through.
- Exercise, fresh air and a gratitude list – As the manager who added those said ‘you don’t need a self-help book to know that they work!’.
- Caffeine – be careful not to over stimulate yourself with too much caffeine. Take on water throughout the day and get up and move around. Movement is key.
- Last but not least – Take a breath, pause and give yourself a moment to ground yourself and your thinking.
If you need help sustaining levels of energy and engagement or any other aspect of performing under pressure, please reach out to one of our team.
*We recommend a systematic approach because like so many aspects of performance, levels of energy or adrenaline are connected to many other factors and therefore is difficult to address in isolation.
Author: John O' Gorman – Contributors: John Murphy, David Gribben, David Duggan & Ray Collis
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