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How We Created the Pressure Matrix (And How It Can Help You Be An Effective Manager)

Over the last year, the team at BarometerXP has been refining a core philosophy around the concept of pressure…

In science, barometers are harbingers of weather. By measuring pressure in the atmosphere, the gauge can predict sunny and stormy conditions before they happen, and alert people to when they can expect some turbulence.

At Barometer XP, we aim to do the same for teams and culture. Games are excellent barometers for interpersonal dynamics: play can simulate work environments in a way that puts existing relationships and dynamics and systems on full display. By observing how different dynamics play out (pun intended) over the course of a game, the group can observe where the team is experiencing smooth sailing and where a storm might be brewing.

When led by an experienced facilitator, a single play session can yield hundreds of topics for further reflection and insights. Acting on those takeaways can lead to real, sustainable change.

To help teams and leaders organize where to start, we wanted to create a framework to talk about workplace pressure – one that would categorize the different kinds of dynamics that make up team culture.

Here’s how we did it.

The Pressure Matrix

We researched best practices in organizational development and merged it with the field of mental health. As you might expect, this intersection evolved into a model of organizational health.

By crossing the why, what, and how of work with the feeling, thinking, and acting of human behavior, the resulting 3x3 matrix represents our workplace barometer. In future posts, we’ll dive into each of the 9 individual pressure points.

To apply the matrix, we created a 2-5 minute assessment that anyone can take. It consists of six sets of statements – some positive and some negative – about the workplace. People select which statements resonate most, and the assessment calculates scores based on how those chosen statements are categorized into the matrix.

The assessment output may be simple, but it contains both short and long term implications. Individuals can use it as a way to validate and find effective language for pressure points. By taking the assessment in a recurring (i.e. once a month or quarter) manner, people can also track how those pressures are changing over time – data points that encourage self-awareness and development.

For a leader or facilitator, compiling a team's assessments serves as a north star for reflection and determining next steps. We have found that leaning into areas of strength to address areas of pressure catalyzes opportunities for personal and professional growth. Once you have these insights, there are many intervention tools to improve cohesion, communication, and culture.

Barometer XP believes that games offer safe spaces to get team buy-in, explore creative solutions, and learn how to deal with pressure in a simulated environment.

Ready to try the assessment for yourself? We’re here to suggest games based on your results.


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