Turning stress into success: Recommendations for Recruiters.

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Just the right amount of stress is the key to recruiter performance

Most people perform better when they have a deadline, target or are simply told what they need to do by when.

Used in the right ways, stress is a powerful performance enhancer.

In recruitment it’s easy for individual consultants and the business as a whole to enter a state of complacency – a kind of ‘autopilot’ where results are being delivered but consultant performance isn’t all that it could be.

In his book Mind Gym: Achieve More by Thinking Differently, Dr Sebastian Bailey explores this type of complacency and argues that it’s one of the primary reasons why individuals fail to maximise their potential results.  Not surprisingly the high self-confidence associated with being a recruitment consultant creates an even greater level of self-belief that targets will be achieved and as such that no special effort is needed to reach them.

So what’s the key to recruiter performance?

This is where applying the right amount of stress can make a dramatic difference.

As Guy Claxton, author of Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind identifies, we can get the best out of individuals if we can tap into their unconscious mind as this is where humans actively problem solve.  Tapping into the unconscious mind effectively helps individuals to focus more intently, respond more quickly and produce a consistent and better performance.  Helping them engage fully in mastering ways to resolve issues like “how can I achieve this target in the shortest amount of time?”

But it needs to be done in the right way to be effective.

Dr Sebastian Bailey suggests that tapping into the unconscious mind whilst at the same time setting the right goals and rewards enables individuals to maximise their output in a mental state he refers to as euphoric stress or “eutress” – this is the stress level at which individuals are being challenged in way that make them feel motivated, energised and exhilarated.  This is when, according to Bailey “we act as if every moment counts”. Result?  The mere state of being under pressure causes individuals to work a little bit faster and focus more intently”.

The steps to achieving the right balance are by:

  1. Setting clear goals that apply just the right amount of pressure: Some recruitment consultants make it look easy to consistently achieve their results, whilst others go up and down like a yoyo.  But even for these top performers being too comfortable can be as detrimental to results as being overly stressed. Therefore define goals for individuals that are challenging but realistic – then allow them control over the actions needed to achieve them.
  2. Creating an external focus: Eliminate complacency by creating an external (ideally visual) focus that enables individuals to take control of their thinking and as a result, achieve more.
  3. Marking and celebrating successes: By consistently communicating important company or individual achievements to reinforce the message that they are directly contributing to your company’s success – this engages, inspires and encourages others into their own productivity enhancing state of eustress.


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