RISMEDIA, March 19, 2007-(MSN.com)-March Madness is here, and for college basketball's elite athletes, the pressure will be tremendous. But the court isn't the only place where the tension can be high; work is often stressful, too. What happens when the heat is on at the office? In a survey by Robert Half International, workers said they rise to the challenge. Seventy-four percent of employees said they perform as well or better than average in high-pressure situations.
But whether or not you thrive on pressure, chances are the spotlight will be on you at some point. When the stakes are high and the heat is on, remember the following advice:
Call a time out.
Before deciding on the best course of action, take a step back and analyze the situation. Do you have all the information you need? What resources are required to accomplish your objective? What challenges will you face and how can you overcome them? By thinking tactically and constructing a road map on the front end, you can spot potential hurdles before they slow you down.
Watch the shot clock.
Since time is of the essence when the pressure is on, make sure you're focused on activities that are linked directly to your most immediate objectives. Low-priority tasks and those with deadlines farther out can be handled later. Getting the most pressing assignment out of the way first will reduce your stress level and make your overall goals seem more manageable.
Stick to the game plan.
Direct your energy toward situations where you can affect the outcome and don't spend time worrying about what you cannot change. For example, if you're scrambling to recreate a presentation that was erased from your computer's hard drive, don't lament the lost file. Start drafting another copy.
Don't lose sight of the basket.
When operating on overdrive, it's easy to lose sight of big-picture goals and the fact that working hard now will help you achieve them. Keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel.
Bring in the sixth man.
During stressful times, it may seem like it's you against the world. But often the help you need is available; all you need to do is ask for assistance. Don't hesitate to turn to colleagues and others in your professional network. Fill them in on the types of challenges you're facing and solicit their input. They may know of more efficient ways to complete certain tasks or resources that can transform a mountainous project into something more manageable. They may even roll up their sleeves and pitch in. At the very least, you will be able to talk through your difficulties, which can make them appear less daunting.
Pass the ball.
If the pressure you're facing is the result of a project overload, identify tasks that can be delegated to another qualified member of the group. Your manager may be able to help you determine which assignments can be redistributed. Also keep your supervisor apprised or your progress and resource needs in case additional personnel would be helpful.
Celebrate the win.
After a high-pressure period has passed, don't forget to reward yourself and those who helped you out. A pat on the back can keep motivation high so you're prepared for the next big project.
Demonstrating grace under fire helps everyone stay focused and perform better. Remaining cool when the heat is on also can distinguish you as a team leader and the coach's go-to person the next time a tough but rewarding assignment arises.
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