Often when you are focused on a particular project or are caught in the daily grind of work, it can be hard to see that your performance is flagging.
Ironically when you are suffering from fatigue, your ability to recognise it is reduced in much the same way that people feel they are fine to drive after a couple of drinks. You also get used to this fatigued feeling as your new “normal” and therefore you forget what it felt like to perform at your best. This combination means a lot of executives will think they are performing optimally when in fact they are way off the mark.
Last week we discussed how to maximise your performance, but that does of course rely on an awareness that anything is lacking in the first place. So, what are some of the signs to look out for that may indicate you are performing below your best?
1. Reduced ability to focus
Being able to genuinely focus on a given task for a sustained period is a marker of effectiveness. Whether it’s a board meeting or reading through important documents, there are times when you may need to focus on details for several hours at a time. If you find yourself missing points being raised, or having to re-read the same line multiple times, then you may well be under-performing. This kind of lost focus can lead to inefficiencies in your work and as a result you could end up putting in extra hours to get the workload under control. This in turn will likely lead to more sub-par performances; a vicious cycle!
2. Reduced emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to regulate your own emotions whilst still being able to read and empathise with the emotions of others. This is a great skill for any leader in a company to have. When you are performing below your best you will find your own resilience to stress decreases. You might feel more snowed-under and over-worked. You could also find you snap at staff and get easily wound up by their mistakes.
3. Low energy in the morning or later in the day
If you are starting the day off feeling groggy or are hit particularly hard by the post-lunch slump, this will leave you under-performing at some point during the day. This could indicate that you are under-slept; sleeping in a pattern that doesn’t match your own circadian rhythm; or eating foods that aren’t conducive to sustained energy. Fixing whichever one is broken can give you a steady flow of energy throughout the working day.
4. Poor sleep
If you find you are regularly getting less that 7 hours sleep a night, whether you feel at your best or not, you will likely be under-performing. As previously mentioned, your ability to assess whether you have had enough sleep reduces when you are under-slept. So take it as a red flag if you are getting below 7 hours sleep; that you are more than likely to be off your game. It has a cumulative effect, so more than one night like this and it gets worse.
5. Not taking breaks
If you find yourself working flat out throughout the day, eating at your desk and only leaving for toilet breaks; something is wrong. When the workload increases, it is easy to think that removing all breaks and working longer is the only way to get through it. Especially if it’s for a specific project and there is light at the end of the tunnel. It has been shown repeatedly that this way of working is inefficient. Strategic breaks allow the brain to function at a higher level for longer. Like with physical exertion, recovery periods are key to maintain high performance.
If any of these points ring true for you or any of your colleagues, get in touch to discuss how we keep the staff and Senior Executives we work with performing at their best. All high-performing athletes have a team to keep them at their best… why should this be any different in the city?