New Year. New Look. Stay Tuned...
Published on Friday, December 21, 2018
Stress management tips abound for project managers. Much of the advice is well-intentioned, but some stress is inevitable when completing a project. It is a natural reaction of the body, producing hormones and endorphins in response to a difficult situation.
When project managers and their teams are stressed – and the stress becomes negative because it is not contained or managed, it can cause serious issues such as bad judgment calls, impulsive decision-making, negative attitudes and more.
Stress can also have an adverse effect on the body, the mind, and overall health. Project managers must know how to manage their own stress and to reduce stress for their teams.
Some stressors for teams involved in projects are:
Everyone has a limit to the amount of stress they can handle, and negative stress leads to decreased productivity, feeling overwhelmed, anxious and negative. So, how do you manage to stay behind that limit and never cross the line?
Here are eight ways project managers can reduce stress for themselves and their teams.
Disorganization is a strong factor behind negative stress, and it can be minimized with proper planning. Proper planning involves anticipating risks, identifying opportunities, examining strengths and weaknesses, and soliciting advice from subject matter experts.
Prioritizing tasks for each week helps you to manage your expectations and reduce stress on your team. Your planning should be as simple as possible and include only pertinent information. This will keep everyone on the same page and help everyone know what needs to be accomplished.
nTask is just one of many online project management tools. It is a free tool and can help you to plan and initiate a project. It has a simplified interface and many powerful features to facilitate all stages of project management.
Spreadsheets have their place, but they can be a nightmare for project managers. Version control is difficult, security is lacking and updating them can be difficult. Replacing spreadsheets and other ad hoc tools with a centralized work management system help to reduce stress.
The best project managers today have multiple tools at their disposal. These tools are intuitive, flexible, powerful and customizable, helping teams to thrive.
Karen Starc, Project Manager at Proessaywriting, says "Using cloud-based project management tools offers my team unlimited access to information and file sharing. Useful collaborative features make the whole project management process more effective."
For teams who stress out over uncertainties such as project status, priorities, incoming changes, etc., online project management tools can offer the insight and collaboration they need to allay their stress.
Promoting open communication can reduce stress. Use team meetings, team activities, one-on-ones, and other opportunities and allow your team to talk about the stress they might be facing on projects without encouraging negativity.
Brian Dempsey, who manages a team of writers at Essay Writing Land says "You can’t control how others react to stress, but if you’re in control of your own stress, and you’re supportive and encouraging to others, you can set an example of how to manage it."
As a lifeguard in training, you learn that you can’t save anyone else if you drown. If you are completely overwhelmed by stress and unable to make clear decisions, you can’t successfully manage a project.
Good project managers do not want to be control freaks, but they often have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. They need this to do their job, but it can result in a style of leadership that clogs workflows and increases stress levels.
Project managers can reduce stress by seeing if they can allocate more tasks to team members. These team members may have a learning curve and take longer to get things done, but in the end, it results in more productivity.
Assigning responsibilities to team members also means making sure they are held accountable. This may involve tracking key performance indicators and the percentage of assignments completed. When responsibility is shared, a project is more resistant to stress and more agile.
Delegating may mean having to outsource certain tasks. For instance, it may be worthwhile to hire a writer or use services like Brill assignment help to handle less important tasks and allow your team more time to spend on priority tasks.
Project managers have to know when to say no. If too much is taken on, it’s not fair on the project manager or the team. Recognize the risk of taking on too much and jeopardizing the outcome of the project.
It’s better to share why you’re saying no than to agree and then fail to deliver. If you can manage expectations, it reduces unnecessary stress for all concerned.
'Scope creep' is a well-known cause of project stress because workload increases and deadlines are hard to meet.
Some 'scope creep' is acceptable but project managers have to realize when to refuse to expand the scope of a project. This will keep the project within budget and keep team members on track, thus reducing stress.
Workplace stress is a risk factor for numerous diseases. Stress is a major cause of absenteeism – the American Institute of Stress estimates that 1 million workers are absent every day due to stress.
Get enough sleep: Project managers tend to eat-sleep-and-breathe their projects. Regeneration of the mind and body takes place while sleeping. Without enough sleep, it is virtually impossible to handle stress effectively.
Pursue hobbies: Hobbies freshen up your days. Spending time on anything that you love doing can bring in positive changes in you. Learn how to make a book review, foreign languages, cooking, gardening, or just anything that you feel excited about.
Exercise: Sitting at a desk all day is bad for the health. Learning a couple of stretches is a good way to reverse the tension it causes. Take a few minutes every now and then to implement these stretch exercises at the office.
Neglecting exercise increases project stress in a multitude of ways - you’re more liable to injury, tire more easily and your cognitive ability declines. If you’re a project manager, encourage your team to take time to exercise and relieve their stress whichever way they find best.
Walking meetings have become popular in some companies as well as building in more work flexibility to allow for time to exercise. More and more companies have gyms on their premises or offer their employees allowances for exercise classes etc.
Take short breaks: Taking short breaks should not be optional. Avoid doing any work-related activities during breaks, such as checking emails. Get up from your desk, drink coffee and chat to a coworker. Having an activity to engage in during breaks or lunchtime gives team members a way to reduce their stress, have some fun and improve working relationships.
Drink more water: The link between stress reduction and water consumption is well documented. All the organs, including the brain, require water to function properly. If you’re dehydrated, you’re not functioning at your best, and this can lead to stress. Establish a practice of drinking water throughout the day, and your body will enjoy a healthier state.
Managing conflict is often one of the biggest problems faced by a project manager. Conflicts that develop between team members and departments can be a great source of stress for all concerned.
If project managers gain conflict resolution skills, they can avoid conflict or prevent it from escalating to the point where it affects the project.
Some conflicts happen because an individual feels that his or her ideas are not being acknowledged. By taking the time to acknowledge a problem, a project manager may be able to prevent conflict from occurring.
One way to solve conflicts is to reach a compromise. Each party has its interests satisfied to a degree in a successful compromise.
Conflicts have to be thoroughly understood because not all of them are what they seem to be on the surface.
For example, if you’re repeatedly trying to solve conflicts over a late delivery, you may need to look deeper for a cause such as poor communication, lack of training or unclear goals.
A growing trend in small and large companies is to adopt pet-friendly policies. The reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression that comes from relating to animals is well documented.
Companies such as Amazon and Google are just two of the large companies that have adopted pet-friendly policies.
Laughter is one of the best stress-relievers in the world. Colleagues who can laugh together definitely experience less stress. Encourage a company culture that sees the value in laughter.
If colleagues share funny experiences, videos, jokes, etc. with others when the office atmosphere is becoming tense, it can instantly bring relief.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to stress management for project managers and teams. It’s inevitable that project teams will encounter stress. The key to managing it lies in sufficient planning, better communication, collaboration, taking care of the health of team members and putting tools in place to reduce stress. It helps when teams can connect, have fun and laugh together.
If you are interested in conveying your message to your target market, please contact us at email@example.com!
Share you project management knowledge and expertise with the hundreds of thousands readers of PMTips.net. Apply here!