From tight deadlines to sudden scope changes to difficult clients, project management can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way. First and foremost – what is stress? It is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. A little stress or anxiety can be a very good thing. According to health professionals, stress is a natural defense mechanism of the human body which signals us of a possible health hazard. It is also very subjective because one team member may respond to stress differently than someone else. And different people have different ways to handle stress. However, if one doesn’t notice the signals the body is sending, a lot of stress can be hazardous. Thus, reducing the productivity, efficiency and morale of your team and impeding the successful completion of your projects. So here are 7 strategies and techniques for project managers to relieve stress while managing projects.
Inclusive planning and constant communication
There is a reason this point is first on the list. A lot of stress can be avoided before the launch of the project. This can be done by – Inclusive planning. That means involving all the stakeholders, specially the team members before the launch of the project, taking their feedback and understanding their personal or professional constraints. And then accordingly define a planning or project time table.
Also, once a project has begun, it is essential to communicate regularly! It important not only for the project manager to find out what his team is doing, but also for the team members to understand what everyone is up to and how their task is related to their colleagues. One way of doing this is by adopting daily stand-up meetings as recommended by the agile methodologies.
Well defined roles and manageable workload
A lot of stress arises because of confusion around roles and responsibilities because sometimes they are not clearly defined. So, before a project is launched, after inclusive planning, it is equally important to define clear project roles and responsibilities of all team members as well as limit the workload according to everyone’s capacity and skill sets. It is important to remember: stress management equals workload management.
Regular workout or exercise regimen
Health professionals often recommend 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise. A regular exercise regimen can do wonders to a project manager’s and his teams’ body and mind. It would be great to hire a professional trainer who would come to your office during lunch breaks or towards the end of a work day and lead the project and his team through stretches, relaxation and strengthening exercises. Including some games would also help reinforce the team dynamic. Thus, enhancing the general wellbeing of the of the team.
Regular short breaks, chitchat, banter with colleagues
Humor and silly banter are a good way to disperse tensions and create bonds between colleagues. Chitchat and light gossip, without being malicious or critical, leads to team camaraderie which in turn creates motivated teams. So, the little laughter near the coffee machine and the intermittent smoking breaks that you team mates indulge in is not a waste of time, it is rather a catalyst to improve project performance.
Well a project manager can’t organize weekend retreats every weekend, but from time to time it would be great to take your team away to a nearby beach, a resort, hiking, camping or a visit to another city. This can help diffuse tensions, bridge differences and develop understanding between team members. It is a very good way to relax.
One to one coaching and mentoring
Conducting one-to-one check-in meetings with team members during which they can raise their concerns and mention their needs about the project is a good way for project managers to diffuse misunderstandings. Very often, team members just need to express their concerns and feel heard, that’s all. The fact that they feel heard, will encourage them to be motivated to get the job done.
Meditation and mindfulness has become a buzzword in the personal development and wellbeing scene. It is not anymore, a monopoly of the Buddhist monks. It can be practiced by anyone and anywhere. Meditation can help a project manager and his team focus better, reduce stress, collaborate efficiently with his peers and develop a greater ability to prioritize effectively. It would be a good idea to create a small meditation space/room in your office so that project managers can meditate for a few minutes during lunch time.