Diamonds Are Made Under Pressure

[…] Oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.  – Peter Marshall

In the life of a startup, there is always a lot of pressure resting on the shoulders of it’s founders. After all, they are taking most of (if not all) the risks and they want return on investment. At this point, it looks very tempting to drop off a little bit of this pressure on the employees in order to speed up things. Diamonds are made under pressure, right?

According to the influencial psychologist Donald Olding Hebb, there is a strong relation between pressure and performance. Little pressure is very similar to too much pressure : productivity drops. There is an optimal level of pressure that needs to be reached. Below this level, the work looks boring or uninteresting. Above it, there are chances the employees will feel like they’ll never make it or that the energy they need to deploy largely outweighs the results. If the perceived outcome is smaller than the perceived efforts needed to get there, motivation and the team’s health might get hurt.

For tech startups, rushes are common. Software changes fast, and overnight deliveries are hard to avoid but, efforts should be deployed to keep those at a minimum. Developing a product is a marathon. No one needs an exhausted team after the first sprint.

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