I mean real poker, with real money at stake. (“Real” money, of course, being a relative term-primarily relative to your current net worth.)
You play differently when you are losing than when you’re winning, do not you? That’s because there’s more pressure when you are losing.
And when the pressure’s on-when the stakes are the highest-we tend to play more conservatively. We take fewer chances. In other words, we play not to lose, rather than play to win.
It is human nature. When the pressure is the highest, we focus on what we could lose, rather than what we might gain.
The very same dynamics that affect us at the poker table affect your team at work. Professor Heidi Gardner, of the Organization Behavior Unit at Harvard University, found that in high-pressure situations, teams get a sort of tunnel vision, focusing more and more on the dangers of failure than rewards of success. As a result of this, they fall back on safe, conservative approaches rather than coming up with original solutions.
This is a problem because the safest course isn’t necessarily the best course.
Now, let us be clear here. There might be times when the safe course is the best course. But how can you know that if you can not compare it with different choices?
When your staff freezes-when they default to safety and stop coming up with these options-then you’re all essentially saying,”The status quo is our best-and in actuality, only-bet.” And at this point, you’ve psychologically negated any chance of a breakthrough solution, a solution that could move the situation forward rather than keep it suspended where it is. Bexar County Wildlife Removal is quite adept at these kind of strategies.
So how do you fix this?
1. Let them know that choices are valued
Create a culture of”two or more choices for each challenge.” Be clear with your team that just one option is not an option. Make numerous options a core team value, and be consistent with it. When your staff realizes that there is an expectation of”two or more choices,” they will begin to generate those choices.
2. Listen to everyone
Gardner also discovered that in high-pressure scenarios, teams tend to defer to the highest-ranking members. But the truth is that great ideas can come from anyone. So rather than just asking the senior members what they think, ask everybody. Sometimes the most junior member of the team will see something-a item of information, a connection, a resource-that everyone else has missed.
I’ve written about this before. For example, ask your team questions like:
What if we had unlimited time to solve this issue?
Imagine if we had to fix this issue with only $100?
What if our competition were facing this issue and solved it? How would they have done it?
By asking these and other”What if” questions, you force both you and your team to consider the issue differently, which opens up the possibility of innovative solutions that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
It’s no fun losing . I know. I have been there. But-in that and other high-pressure scenarios – there is a major difference between freezing and feeling helpless… and having options that could result in a breakthrough solution.