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Project Manager's Job and Dealing With Stress


When you see someone in the organization is talking to customers, vendors, interacting with project team members, creating and updating project schedule, gathering project status, preparing spreadsheet data, participating multiple calls, and attending endless meetings. It means that you are watching is a project manager’s episode.

Project managers are busy people. That’s given, isn’t it? Only those who have been through these whole exercises, understand what it takes to be (and remain as) a project manager. Busy’ness is attributed to project manager’s routine because, every other stakeholders have expectations from project managers. But can that role be taken for granted when it comes to ‘High Stress Level’. The very reason that every other fellow has expectations from project manager; put him/her into stressful position.

Some project managers are able to manage time as well as stress well but few project managers fail to manage stress. In this poste we will look at how project managers get into stressful situations and how they should deal with it for better work-life.

What is stress?

Stress is an uncomfortable feeling or when one start experiencing fear, anxiety or apprehension because of the perception/feeling of perceived menace/threat.

Is it Good or Bad?

So not every time we should perceive or think of stress as BAD. It is true that prolonged stress causes adverse effects on psychological and physiological well-being of a person but right amount of stress can make an individual more productive. There is an apt depiction of differential stress level and its impact on human performance – The Yerkes-Dodson Curve.

Yerkes Dodson Human Performance Curve Under Stress
Yerkes Dodson Human Performance Curve Under Stress

So the impact of stress on an individual depends primarily on that individual. How he/she is identified in terms of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator aka MBIT framework? Also individual’s personality traits determine how best he can respond to different stress levels.

Reasons for Stress

There can be different reasons which puts a given project manager into a stressful situation

  • The intention to be ‘I-am-all-InCharge’ of a given project wherein project manager wants to have more control and say in the way project progresses
  • When project manager keeps trying to shield its team from the pressures exerted by other stakeholders
  • Sometimes project customers and higher management tries to set unrealistic expectations like unrealistic scheduled project completion date, higher billing/high margin expectation
  • Sometimes, it is other stakeholders who aren’t really participating in project delivery but they are required to provide peripheral support; and they have no accountability in current project; such people can really test your patience

I am sure there are - can you think of any other reasons that can stress project managers? In next part of this post, we will see how does stress impact on individual and how one can deal with these stressful situations.

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