Being a Project Manager is without doubt one of the most stressful jobs that you can take on. Whilst anyone taking on the role of Project Manager is sure to already appreciate that their job will entail very high levels of stress they will also, invariably, believe themselves to be immune to the effects of that stress. Unfortunately, whilst some people can cope with high levels of stress the majority of Project Managers can’t, or refuse to, recognise that they are under stress before it is too late. At which point either they become ill or fail in their job as it becomes more and more difficult for them to handle.
Causes of stress in a PM.
The cause of stress in a Project Manager are many and varied; and are not always just associated with the job. A settled and harmonious personal/social life can be just as important to the success of a PM as can be the ease with which a project is progressing. A primary factor in creating stress in a Project Manager is having to work to unrealistic deadlines. If you feel your deadlines are unrealistic tell the project owner and insist on a rescheduling. If they want a quality outcome – they’ll agree to your requests. Conflicts can be another major source of stress. These can be between the Project Management and the project owner or the Project Management and the sub-teams and their managers working on the project. As the Project Management if you can’t show the leadership necessary to remove conflicts, perhaps you need to remove yourself from the project! Whilst some of the other factors to look out for are things like the project environment, the risks being taken in the project and economic considerations – don’t ignore the pressure you put yourself under. By and large project Managers are high achievers who expect a lot of themselves. If something is going wrong – it doesn’t have to be all your own fault!
We’ll consider how to deal with stress as a Project Manager another time – but how do you recognize being under stress. Physical symptoms can include relatively minor things like headaches and upset stomachs. Low spirits and short temperedness are two other common indicators of stress. However, cardiovascular disease and deeply psychological worries are serious concerns that must not be ignored; as you are putting yourself and potentially those you work with at serious risk should you make a misjudgement due to a condition brought on by stress. If you are stressed it doesn’t mean that you have to quit work, but you should seek help immediately.