Pro Tips: How to Manage Stress

Change-ready project teams are being pushed to extremes. More than 75 percent of employees have experienced burnout at their current job, according to Deloitte. 

PMI asked project managers around the world: How do you reduce stress so team members stay engaged and productive?

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Make engagement constant and consistent  
By communicating to every team member, I can identify any problems causing them stress and do my best to motivate them from there. By showing my team they have someone in their corner, the communication channel can be opened up to eliminate any isolation team members might feel while also mitigating stress.
Alexander Narh, PMP, principal civil technician engineer, Ghana Grid Company Ltd, Accra, Ghana

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Be ready for the unknown
Project surprises can introduce stress for any team. So we must capture risks with mitigations and contingencies—and revise regularly for any changes. Being prepared for the known unknowns—and how to address them—not only helps keep the project on track, but supports the team, which directly and significantly reduces the likelihood of stress. This helps the team feel more comfortable so they can perform to their full potential in a stress-free environment.
Santhosh Nair, PMP, program manager, Downer Group, Sydney

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Turn authentic connections into solutions
Empathy, true leadership and communicating to all team members at the right time can mitigate stress. Doing this will help reveal to them what their important problems are and give you an opportunity to motivate them.
Hakan Güğül, PMP, mechanical construction engineer, Sanko Enerji, Manisa, Turkey

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Help them explore—and resolve—the problem
I look for the reason by asking my team member what their understanding of the task is. This helps me evaluate where they feel unclear and allows me to try to resolve that confusion. I also ask them what their best idea for a solution is. Doing this helps them to break down the problem so it’s easier to resolve. The most stressful environment is when you are not aware of—nor getting—support to realize what you need to reach the solution. A simple helping hand makes it easier to resolve complex problems—or at the very least you can find ways to share their struggles and relieve them.
Muhammad Bilal, PMI-RMP, PMP, structural engineer, AECOM, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Take Time to Mix It Up
Foster an environment of friendliness and collaboration. It’s helpful to introduce team building exercises that are fun and engaging and allow for team members to disconnect themselves from work deliverables and decompress. If possible, try rotating project duties to allow team members to move out of existing work items and delve into something new. Being a supportive manager and offering positive reinforcement can help team members sustain productivity and reduce stress.
Tom Tsongas, PMP, product manager, Dell Technologies, Lake Mary, Florida, USA