Apr 28 '15

The Cost of Stress and Low Confidence

The corporate environment has become more demanding of individuals at every level. Companies are constantly striving to cut costs and increase revenue and profit through efficiency and effectiveness. According to research done by Enlitic, an advanced machine learning company, 80% of the jobs in the industrialized world can be done more efficiently and effectively by computers and machines. This means that many high paying jobs and long standing career paths will cease to exist over the next 5 to 10 years. This dynamic will force people to leverage talent and develop skills faster and better than ever before.

This trend will continue at increasingly fast rates as computers continue to advance research and product development, improve organizational speed, improve quality while reducing cost of manufacturing, improve processes, and enhance quality and delivery of service. This evaluation will place more pressure on the individual to optimize talent and develop skills.

The pressure placed on executives by investors, public markets and boards of directors has always been present but the ability of these groups to challenge an organization’s leadership has increased as a result of more immediate and detailed information, advancements in systems that track multiple organizational metrics in more granular ways, and growing market pressure.

There are also growing family pressures, as parents struggle to prepare their children for this new world. It is a multi-faceted challenge. The content of education, method of teaching, and cost of undergraduate, trade schools, and graduate schools all represent changing dynamics that will affect the current work force and future workforces like never seen before in the history of man.

One underused material area of opportunity that can be targeted with consistency is behavioral training. Helping people understand how to optimize genetic talent and build and refine learned behaviors, such as interpersonal skills, social acumen, and business acumen, are areas ignored by many companies or targeted in suboptimal ways. Companies use directional indicators that classify people as slow to make decisions, reluctant to speak up, lacking drive, stressed or lacking confidence with no understanding of “why,” and the magnitude of the behaviors that cause the suboptimal performances.

The result of these and other pressures on personal performance from a behavioral perspective is significant. In our research we see Stability and Expertise scores drop as a result of personal and career pressures. Stability measures one’s stress level— the lower the score, the greater the stress. Expertise measures one’s self confidence—the lower the score, the less confidence one has. When both Stability and Expertise score drop to levels below the 20% mark, we find people that could be dealing with depression and or significant anxiety.

This combination of low Stability and low Expertise has a material impact on performance and one’s ability to optimize talent. We have seen combinations of low Stability and low Expertise drive down key individually behaviors or combinations of behaviors including but not limited to Energy, Dominance, Discipline, and Competing—the four genetic behaviors that constitute Motivational drive. The impact is not permanent but it does affect performance at the individual and organizational level in a significant way. Low scores for Stability and Expertise can also affect Social Acumen and Business Acumen, which are two behavioral requirements of high performing leaders and teams.

Having workforces that are overly stressed and lacking self-confidence is not better than having a starting pitcher who does not think he can win and believes he has lost his ability to control his pitches. Even the most talented athletes fail when they are overly stressed and lack self-confidence. Talent Executives and employees are no different.

The other common issue identified in our research is that most people with low Stability and or low self-confidence underestimate the materiality and significance of their situations. They will say, “I am no more stressed than normal,” or, “My confidence is only a little off,” or “I was worse before.”

I recently met with an Executive with more than 30 years of experience in a highly specialized and critical business function. Her Stability score was a 5% and her Expertise was a 20%. She told me she use to be much more stressed and had far less confidence three-to-five years ago.

This individual was reluctant to present direct insight and offer opinions even though they were the Expert and leading person responsible for a significant business function. The Executive Vice President and CEO of the organization were frustrated in the individual’s misperception and inability to perform critical job functions that impacts hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate profit.

The individual was able to accept the material nature of the problem and the need for her to address the situation but this was only accomplished after she saw her data and the material nature of the scores. It was only possible when she understood the link between low Stability and Expertise and 15 other behavioral scores that affect 17 behavioral models.

Corporations must profile behavioral dynamics if they want to overt and protect against significant reduction in performance or suboptimal personal and organizational performance. Not assessing behavioral factors is no different than sending a pitcher to the mound to face an opponent he does not believe he can beat because he knows he cannot get the ball over the plate. It is no different than a world-renowned talented singer who has stage fright and fears she cannot hit her high notes because she has had a cold for two weeks limiting her practice and affecting her confidence.

Given the growing pressure of the markets resulting from advancing technology and greater ability to analyze individual and organizational performance, it is imperative that companies not send players to the mound or stage without proper understanding, support, and development. When one understands the existence and magnitude of the problem and the cause, they can address them in an effective way. They can optimize performance and understand the factors that compromise all aspects of a company and family.

Note: Scores and profiles referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program

About the author: Curtis R. Sprouse is the President and CEO of EurekaConnect, LLC. Curtis has spent over 25 years building companies and consulting for hundreds of the fortune 500 companies. EurekaConnect, LLC uses proven technologies and data driven solutions that objectively and measurably improve organizational performance. For more information please email: customerservice@eurekaconnect.com.