“Work well under pressure” is a safety valve, not SOP
The phrase “work well under pressure” is something that I consider to be a red flag in a professional environment. My company builds a database that is used as the backend of business critical systems. If something breaks, there is a need to fix it. It costs money (sometimes a lot of money) for every minute of downtime.
Under such a scenario, I absolutely want the people handling the issue to remain calm, collected and analytical. In such a case, being able to work well under pressure is a huge benefit.
That is not how this term is typically used, however. The typical manner you’ll hear this phrase is to refer to the usual working environment. For example, working under time pressure to deliver certain functionality. That sort of pressure is toxic over time.
Excess stress is a well known contributor to health issues (mental and physical ones), it will cause you to make mistakes and it adds frictions all around.
From my perspective, the ability to work well under pressure is an absolutely important quality, which should be hoarded. You may need to utilize this ability in order to deal with a blocking customer issue, but should be careful not to spend that on non-critical stuff.
And by definition, most things are not critical. If everything is critical, you have a different problem.
That means that part of the task of the manager is to identify the places where pressure is applied and remove that. In the context of software, that may be delaying a release date or removing features to reduce the amount of work.
When working with technology, the most valuable asset you have is the people and the knowledge they have. And one of the easiest ways to lose that is to burn the candle at both ends. You get more light, sure, but you also get no candle.
I suppose the timing is not accidental - year is coming to an end and there's pressure everywhere. All the things postponed suddenly need to be finished, and customers are panicking about delivery of some features or about spending the money still sitting unspent in the yearly budget. Good news is that the clock is ticking and no matter how much pressure is applied it will not stop or slow down - so i think the right way to handle that is to isolate yourself from the chaos and keep doing the work as usual. In few days the holidays will start for everyone and inevitable reality will kick in - time out, machines stop, blow off the steam.
This is now the end of year reviews, time to look at what happened the last year. Right now, to be honest, this is the most quiet time we have in the year, the perfect time to sit down and code with no interruptions, since most of our clients are off :-)
Yep, its getting quiet here as well, but i felt some pressure from customers at the end of November and beginning of this month. But they're reasonable people in general so no drama at all - more like 'year end anxiety'.