Pressure and Quality Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Pressure and Quality Aren’t Mutually Exclusive


When I am trusted with a search mandate, I put myself under considerable pressure to do the best job possible. This pressure doesn’t relent once the initial payment has hit my account – in some ways it ratchets up a few notches. Someone trusts me to do a job for them, and I need to explore every way of doing it as well as possible.

A focussed pressure brings out the best in me.

What doesn’t work so well is when other pressures try to intrude on my professional focus. When you allow different pressures to build up on top of one another, this is when the quality of the task in hand tends to fall. As a family man and owner of a recruitment business, it has not always been easy to compartmentalise the two, but once you enter the office, you owe it to yourself and to your clients to put the family thoughts to one side for a while.

Sporting figures talk about getting in the zone. For me, this type of recruitment pressure is about transporting myself into my client’s world and seeing the potential candidates from their perspective. I am less able to do this if my mind is elsewhere, and when I am in my zone, I can focus on the task at hand.

This doesn’t mean that I put myself under this sort of pressure from 9-5. Being able to zero in on what needs to be done takes an immense amount of energy, and our brains need regular breathing space to be able to take everything else in. Going for a walk, taking a coffee break or maybe even reading a few chapters of my latest book help me to renew my focus. Pressure and quality combine when the mind has been rested a little. Quality will always decrease over time if subjected to a constant amount of pressure – you need to give yourself a break every now and again.

This is what I love about my job.

I sit down, spend a quality hour being 100% present for my client, doing whatever activity is needed to move the search forward, and then I can switch off for 5-10 minutes. I am content that it has been an hour well spent and the break is something to focus the mind even more. Thinking about being in a pressure cooker atmosphere all day is utterly demoralising, but if you have the reward of a slow stroll around the block in the back of your mind, you don’t mind giving it your all.

The ability to deliver under pressure is directly linked to the results that ensue. I am lucky enough to have some fantastic clients who view me as one of their team, and this “we’re in it together” pressure nearly always delivers the right person for the job. In other words, if you have an expectation that your pressure will pay off, it is that little bit easier to take.

Pressure is often demonised as the cause of stress and depression, but for me, if welcomed in the right way and in the right quantity, it is an essential part of what drives our success.

In my world, pressure and quality are intrinsically linked.

Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury

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