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Pressure affects perception -

Let us now consider another relationship--when people are placed under high pressure accompanied by high tension, what happens to their ability to perceive differences among other people and objects? Do they become more or less discriminating, or remain unaffected? It is essential for all of us to make accurate and efficient perceptual discriminations among people, objects, plans of action or alternatice diagnoses of trouble throughout our lives. In many instances such perceptual ability is an important aspect of task performance

The basic relationship here is very similar to the one discussed above in relation to performance. As we increase the amount of pressure that we place on a person from zero to some moderate amount, performance and discriminating ability increases.

But there is a point of diminishing returns. When we increase tension beyond some hypothetical "moderate": level, however, the rate of increase in discriminating behavior slows down and eventually deteriorates. This happens because, when people are under sufficiently high tension, they either are able to observe fewer cues or stimuli in their environment, or they develop internal neural interference with the mental processes involved in interpreting the stimuli. .

Pressure can disrupt group process -

When we are stressed sufficiently, our ability to judge other people's character and abilities also may suffer. This can facilitate scapegoating and contribute to interpersonal and group conflict because in such circumstances many of us have a tendency to focus only on the negative characteristics of our "antagonists." Such narrow thinking will disturb the negotiating process by which group members develop their structure, work assignments, and general ground rules. Pressure is a motivational prescription whose dosage must be carefully controlled. Too much of this medicine can create unintended side effects.

Groups react to stress like individuals do -

Research data support this argument. One study, for example, suggests that under extreme survival conditions in World War II, some U.S. Air Force bomber crews that survived crash landings subsequently panicked, suffered internal communication breakdowns, and acted as competitive individuals - each member out for himself. Other bomber crews under similar conditions, but apparently more cohesive, held together and problem-solved collectively. Survival rates were higher in the latter cases.

Constructive versus destructive conflict -

A destructive conflict is a condition or state of an interpersonal or intergroup relationship which can't be severed easily. It is characterized by a sustained, interrelated pattern of mutually or unilaterally damaging beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors such as chronic and persistent:

 Hostility, antagonism, punitiveness, dominiance striving and threat.

 Perceptual distortion, stereotyping and scapegoating.

 Trickery, feelings of betrayal, and revenge seeking

 Institutionalized practices, such as publicizing performance data, that keep the conflict from dying.

 Mutual disrespect and denigration.

 Inconvenience, discomfort or damage to bystanders.

A constructive is characterized by a sustained and interrelated pattern of:

 Disagreement over goals, priorities and methods.

 Sharpening of issues.

 Argumentation and insistence on considering alternatives.

 Mutual respect among the parties, but probes for weakness.

 Mutual efforts to insure there is no permanent winner.

In the case of constructive conflict one or both parties operate from an assumption that mutual benefits will arise from such a relationship, and they cooperate with each other between arguments. In the case of destructive conflict, on the other hand, such attitudes and behaviors are both unlikely and difficult to cultivate.

Hard to achieve goals -

Many managers like a demanding approach to motivation. They set exceptionally difficult goals for their subordinates in an apparent attempt to build their organizations on the shoulders of an exclusive group of people who respond enthusiastically to difficult challenges with limited chance of extrinsic reward. The strategy is presumably designed to discourage all but the "most able and motivated" from joining or remaining in the group. However, there is no necessary relationship between the type of risk-taking behavior being sought on the one hand and talent or ability on the other.

Valuable employees may leave -

The high pressure environment that such an approach to motivation creates encourages stress, turnover and turmoil, but it is not true that only poor quality employees will be turned off and quit. Talented people also are likely to leave for opportunities where they can have a better chance at important extrinsic rewards. Moreover, some poor quality people may remain because they have a realistically low level of aspiration, knowing that they will not accomplish more than the minimum for whatever job they take. The basic strategy, while perhaps applicable in special cases, in general is questionable.

Managers' values complicate the issue -

Some managers believe that "hard-to-get" rewards are seen as more valuable that "easy" rewards. The belief among many managers that "hard-to-get" rewards are perceived as valuable by rank-and-file employees probably follows from the fact that managerial occupations attract a disproportionate share of self-confident people characterized by high achievement needs Hard-to-get rewards are not always seen as valuable. Many managers project their own need structures and personalities onto others who often are different. To the extent that they build their organizations' reward systems on such premises (and then find that the rank and file does not respond), their organizations suffer

- Excerpts from Teamwork and The Bottom Line by Ned Rosen ã 1989 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

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