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April 26. 2014 8:34PM

Christopher Thompson's Closing The Deal: Workplace pressure isn't fun


 

There are certain aspects of business I love. And there are some I despise. I'm sure you will agree when I say the one thing I can't stand is unnecessary workplace pressure.

In sales and business, it goes without saying that pressure is part of the game. You will deal with a lot of pressure, especially around performance metrics. In every company I have worked for and with, these pressures exist.

And it all starts from the top and rolls downhill. The board of directors or owners of your company have expectations and performance targets they want to hit. That in turn is relayed to the executive team who is tasked with achieving the expected results.

From there, the expectations are parsed out among the teams within the organization responsible for achieving those specific results. And then, it trickles down to everyone else. This is the nature of business, and it's not going to change. It's part of the reality everyone must face.

So everyone knows there are expectations, and everyone knows there is pressure to achieve the results the company expects. And it's the responsibility of managers and leaders within the organization to lead their teams to achieve the desired results. Again, this isn't breaking news for any of us.

So what happens when the heat is on, and things aren't going as expected? Well, the same thing happens. The disappointing or concerning results are communicated from the top down, and everyone feels it. When it's good, it's good. But when things aren't going well, it's certainly not fun.

How you deal with this type of pressure is important to consider. Do you get wound up, stressed out and panic? Or do you take the pressure and heat in stride and recognize it as part of the circle of business? I think everyone handles pressure differently, but there's no doubt it impacts everyone in one form or another.

Workplace stress and pressure impacts our mentality and behavior in the workplace and also in our personal lives. I always share the story about an experience I had early in my career where the company I worked for was having a tough quarter. All of the sales managers got pulled into a room and read the riot act by one of the executives.

Everyone was concerned, including me. It was my first experience of real pressure, and I was definitely nervous. We all thought we would lose our jobs. We were all stressed out. I remember I barely slept that night and kept having horrible thoughts of losing my job.

I learned pretty quickly that this type of stress was normal in sales, and I learned how to assess the difference between normal pressure and concerning pressure. I also figured out how to deal with these challenging situations and not let it trickle into my personal life.

It's a lot easier said than done. But one thing that can help you deal with these situations is to first recognize that it's normal and part of what everyone in sales and business deals with. It's not easy to do, but you have to do your best to leave the pressure and concerns at work and not bring it home to your family.

There is only so much you can control. If you leave work every day knowing you have done everything you can to win, that's half the battle.

Christopher Thompson (cthompson@catch22solutions.com) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News. Thompson is the vice president of sales and services for Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft on the web at skillsoft.com.



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