Wednesday, March 23, 2011, AM | Leave Comment
As a project manager, no matter what your style of management is, your job can be at times stressful. But effective project managers use stress as an opportunity to be successful in their objective.
Top-notch managers use it as a constructive force rather than allowing it to become a destructive one.
Use stress as a challenge to your creativity.
Make stress a welcome opportunity to perform well as a project manager. Convert stress into a constructive force to inspire your team members to act positively so they can work more efficiently and to utilize more of their potential for finishing the project successfully.
How does Stress occur?
As a project manager you are expected to complete your project successfully, i.e., on time, within budget, and delivering a top-notch quality product. When you feel that the project is slipping and you won’t be able to finish it on time, you become anxious and stress begins to take over your existence.
Stress becomes destructive when the pressure to act cannot be met or at least you think it cannot be met. If you as project manager cannot provide the needed action and you require more time, more money, greater skill or productivity than you can supply, the force of stress eventually becomes negative.
Continuing stress destroys the thrill and excitement of achievement because no accomplishment seems possible within the original schedule. Initiate discussion of the project with your seniors and team members so the resulting dissatisfaction with personal productivity comes in the open.
Undue stress hampers decision-making effectiveness, decreases personal productivity, and blocks creativity in your project management experience.
How to avoid Stress as Project Manager
Minimizing destructive stress requires planning ahead and setting priorities as a project manager. You must work from the very beginning to set up your goals and set your priorities of the project tasks that are to be completed.
You could develop a system of documentation that clearly defines what has to be done by the team members in order to avoid stress later into the project.
A system for handling every part of the project cuts down on the number of decisions that must be made day by day. It should transform many problems into automatic procedures. It should make sure there is an appropriate team member to handle most situations that arise.
There are certain specific steps you can take to minimize the effect of stress, probably eliminate it altogether.
Managing Project By Goals
Clearly defined goals for your project gives you stress-reducing benefits:
- You feel little fear of the unknown if you have thought the details and written out a road map of how to complete the project.
- If you encounter obstacles along the way, don’t consider them threats. Instead they can be windows of opportunities.
- Make your goals to serve as project criteria, thereby simplifying making choices.
- You must have developed a plan of action for achieving goals. Following the plan will reduce stress.
Project managers have always face the challenge of identifying priorities. Go over the list of goals and tasks and prioritize them on the basis of levels of importance.
During the project execution, if something happens – for example the customer wants to make changes in the middle of the game so to speak – resist with your utmost effort. Write them down and tell the customer in clear words you would do them once the higher priorities tasks are completed.
Keeping Communication Channels Open
One of the most stressful feelings an effective project manager can experience is the fear of being out of touch with what is going on.
You must get involved in everything about the project. That’s your job. Your seniors in the organization must understand that. It is the surprises that are devastating to the project productivity and in turn yours.
Design reports that provide pertinent information about the status and operation of the project. Ask each of your team members for a monthly (or weekly) one-page unit report.
As the leader of your team, you supply the inspiration, direction, and support each person needs. Become a keen observer. More than anything, become an excellent listener. Learn to relate what you see and hear to your team members, your seniors and the customer.
If you have done your home work of setting goals and priorities and thought out potential threats and develop a contingency plan, then you would be able to prevent burnout.
Prevention, of course, is the preferred way of handling burnout. Effective project managers are positive role models. They handle stress constructively and convert them into opportunities.
Keeping Your Perspective About Project
Always go back to the goals and priorities and remember why you have set them up. From the very beginning of the project when it is in its initial stages, clear out the stress-producing mind clutter of old attitudes, old work habits, and old problems.
Strive to enhance your productivity by keeping all areas of your project life in proper perspective.
In short, overall project goals and plans would simplify the leadership in you as a project manager to your team. They specify the actions and activities needed and who in your team is responsible for each one.
In a Nutshell
By setting goals and priorities of your project and following them through by taking action accordingly will reduce and perhaps eliminate the potential of stress that may have burned out other project managers.
This column is © copyright to www.Method123.com and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.
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