I recently saw this Ted Talk by Sian Beilock on “Why we choke under pressure – and how to avoid it”. Mrs. Beilock’s scientific study regarding human performance under pressure was accurate and fascinating.
On the football field, we called rising under pressure being a “gamer” or “responding to the bright lights”. We had a word when it didn’t happen either. It was called “Choking”. Mrs. Beilock is correct. It’s one of the worst things you can tell your performers…..they already know well before they hear it from you. It’s devastating.
So, can employee or player performance be predicted under pressure? We believe so using the Predictive Index psychometric solution. Humans have drives that in turn, create behaviors. Have you ever noticed how some individuals just seem to excel when the chips are down? It seems as if they weren’t even trying. Chances are, they weren’t trying at all. Have you ever focused so hard to excel at the same thing, only to fail after the first step? Chances are, as Sian points out, you were over focused under the pressure.
The need for humans to fulfill their drives will create observed behavior. Behavioral science shows that when a person has a high drive to assert themselves and influence their surroundings thus combined with a low drive for patience or stability, they tend to thrive under pressure. This combination of human drive factors, or factor combinations, helps these individuals thrive under pressure, adapt easily to change and/or adjust, be decisive and proactive in the clutch, and unaffected by the crowd or naysayers. They are gamer’s!!!
This doesn’t mean the people who lack this factor combination are doomed to choke. As Sian Beilock masterfully describes, it means they have to prepare physically and mentally under the same kind of pressure. Sian illustrates how her certain performers must TRAIN to over come their needs for stability and familiarity, to be more cautious, understanding why, acting responsively, and being dependent on listening!!! That’s right, these people HEAR the noise. They are AWARE of the gravity of their surroundings. Practicing both physically and mentally under they similar pressure conditions is imperative to their success. Whether you are needing to hire, engage, and/or develop your team, understanding the science of pressure and utilizing the Predictive Index, leaders can better understand why we thrive or choke under pressure. To learn how to make gamer’s out of all your people, contact Kinsey Management.