It’s no secret that project management comes with its challenging and stressful days. From putting out fires to problem-solving to a phone that never seems to stop ringing, it’s a wonder some project managers keep from tearing through the hallways screaming.
The truth is, project management isn’t always as easy as it looks. And for those project managers who are really good at keeping a sane, calm demeanor, are probably wreaking havoc to their mental states.
So how do project managers keep a straight face, tackle problems, and stay calm on those days when all hell breaks loose? Here are some tips to help project managers stay great project managers and also maintain their mental health.
Stay Calm. First and foremost, no matter what the job throws at you, it’s important to remember to stay calm. If necessary, take a walk to calm down and take a breather. Most project managers can’t fathom walking away or taking a break from a problem once it arises, however, most would also agree that allowing time away from the issue allows project managers to regroup, collect their thoughts, and address the problem from a calmer state.
Keep Emotions out of It. Try to keep the intense emotions out of every situation. Even if a customer or team member is heightened emotionally—or calls you screaming—it’s extremely important to remember not to respond negatively and take it personally. There’s a reason he or she is upset; therefore, the best approach is to listen at what their true concerns are and address them accordingly. Sometimes negative emotions are just a cry for help.
Communicate Clearly. One way to address that upset team member or screaming customer is proper communication. After practicing active listening and really hearing another individual’s problems or concerns, it’s the project manager’s chance to effectively and clearly respond to his or her concerns, show compassion, and provide and offer solutions and/or problem-solve as needed.
Before offering or providing solutions, it may be necessary to take the problem down a notch. For example, it may be necessary to smooth over the conflict and take down the tone and language by showing some compassion and understanding for an individual’s concerns. You don’t have to agree with what the individual might be claiming, but you will have to deal with it. And it’s best to deal with it from a less emotional state.
There are also a number of stress-reducing strategies project managers have perfected over their time and experience in the field. The above tips will certainly help keep a project manager from blowing up, jumping out the window, or doing or saying something he or she will likely regret, which never ends well…for anyone.
Finally, if you are a project manager that is easily overwhelmed or faces difficult projects, customers or team members on a daily basis, then it’s important to remember to stay calm, keep emotions out of a conflict, and practice active listening and effective communication. Not only will this reduce the intensity of a particular conflict or problem, it will also help project managers take control of the situation and manage it effectively.