Ask the Expert: What is the value of pressure profiling?

Dot Gourlay - Expert Trainer

In answer to a current scenario, corporate trainer and consultant, Dot Gourlay, explains the value of pressure profiling.

The scenario

You and your team have been working under pressure for a considerable period of time, you have all been isolated from each other, and there is still some uncertainty around plans for the future.

You have all appeared to manage up until now, but the cracks are beginning to show….one member of the team has taken sickness absence - stating that they are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted - and relationships within the team seem to be deteriorating.

Team meetings are not as regularly attended, and interactions from a previously cohesive team are regularly heated! What is a manager to do?

Answer

Dot sets out how pressure profiling could help with the above scenario in a 5-minute video.  A written transcription is available further down this post.

The work pressure profiling exercise is covered in the following courses:

Stress Management Training for Managers 

Managing Wellbeing Training

 

Recent feedback from a delegate regarding the Pressure Profiling tool:

"Doing the pressure profile with people could be an excellent exercise in finding how to best support them."

 

Ask the Expert video transcription

Hi there. I’m Dot Gourlay - and in the next few minutes I am going to sell Pressure Profiling to you.

So ... here’s the scenario ... you and your team have been working under pressure for a considerable period of time, you have all been isolated from each other, and there is still some uncertainty around plans for the future. You have all appeared to manage up until now, but the cracks are beginning to show….one member of the team has taken sickness absence - stating that they are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted - and relationships within the team seem to be deteriorating. Team meetings are not as regularly attended, and interactions from a previously cohesive team are regularly heated! What is a manager to do?

Get talking - as soon as possible - using a framework for discussion to ensure consistency throughout the team … with the central aims of minimising pressure impact, and increasing the ability to devise a workable action plan to maximise individual and team wellbeing.

Welcome to Pressure Profiling - which:

  • utilises the HSE Management Standards within Stress - a standardised framework which acknowledges the 6 main areas in the workplace which have the greatest potential to impact negatively on mental health and wellbeing. These are the categories of: Demands; Control; Support; Relationships; Role and Change.
  • allows managers to reactively support individuals who are obviously struggling - using an open framework to explore and discuss their main pressure impacts, where at no point is the word ‘stress’ used! Like it or not, the word ‘stress’ does have a live stigma surrounding it - and the ability to explore a variety of work pressures in a supportive way can absolutely desensitise a potentially difficult and emotionally charged situation.
  • has at its heart, the ability to enable a best outcome for individual health and wellbeing.
  • from a legal perspective, is an example of a risk assessment that organisations and managers are obliged to undertake when they are aware individuals are struggling.
  • also allows for whole team discussions - with individuals initially identifying the main pressures for anyone in their role and discussing these with other team members. This can then catalyse further discussions on shared pressures throughout the team - which then goes on to create openness and mutual understanding, and also supportive action planning within the team. If team members take ownership of this process, it can have a far reaching impact on perceptions of control and ultimately team cohesion.

Seems like an awful lot of work doesn’t it?

However - the longer we allow ourselves, and our colleagues, to struggle alone and under pressure, the more difficult and time consuming it can be to pick up the pieces and start afresh.

If we have proactivity on our side, for example: when we know there is a new change ahead; when a new team has been formed; when a new manager comes on board - using Pressure Profiling as an exploratory tool at these pivotal points can make dealing with any future pinch points much easier.

Imagine this as your preferred outcome to our initial scenario:

  • Team members are encouraged to communicate pressure impacts and support requirements early.
  • Talking about agreed supportive actions as agenda items at team meetings creates a norm to talk about pressure impact regularly - which in turn erodes the stigmatisation of ‘stress’ and encourages individuals to seek support from colleagues and managers much sooner.
  • Individuals and teams take ownership of their wellbeing, and do not solely rely on their managers and the organisation to make changes.
  • You will have the qualitative data to be able to put timely supports in place if a new challenge is looming, and also to use for exploratory discussions at the recruitment stage if appropriate.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to ‘buy’ into Pressure Profiling - at least to look into it in more depth following watching this video…..don’t wait too long however, as time spent using this framework now is definitely time well spent.

You, your colleagues, and your team will: feel more in control; know how to support each other through the next adversity; and best of all - benefit from, and enjoy more supportive relationships in the team.

Many thanks for listening.

 

This Ask the Expert Q&A video appeared in our late Summer 2021 newsletter, if you would like future editions of our quarterly workplace wellbeing newsletter to be sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.

 

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