How Successful Project Managers Handle Stress

by | Mar 6, 2019 | Business Feature

Stress is an integral part of life. For as long as we are living and breathing, there will always be stressors to keep us on our feet. It may be an upcoming deadline, bills to be paid, or meetings to attend. Even a simple thing such as deciding what to wear for the day can be considered a stressor. Stress is everywhere, you can’t simply hole up and wish for it to go away.

What is Stress?

Stress is our bodies reacting to any change in the internal or external environment. Factors that trigger stress are called stressors. These stressors trigger a series of responses in our body that help to prepare our fight or flight response. Some of the key factors that indicate stress are increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and faster respiration. Our ancestors’ stress response ensured the survival of the human race, as it still does today. Short term stress can be beneficial in the sense that it increases our awareness, shortens our response time and helps us think on our feet. However, it is the recurring stress that is harmful to both a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

A State of Distress

If a person loses control of his normal stress response, the body can enter a state of distress. When in distress, the body can undergo a myriad of responses such as sickness and even depression. It can be noted that the construction industry is one of the most stressful work environments there is. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the construction industry has the second highest rate of suicide at about 53 per 100,000 workers.

Since stress is something inescapable, it is important for managers to have a firm grasp on stress management strategies to avoid tipping the scale when it comes to stress response. Check out some of these tips to know how successful project managers handle stress

Keep Everything Organized

Even if you have a ton of things to accomplish in a day, keeping your things and files organized can help lessen the stress and can also save you valuable time which you can invest into more meaningful activities. Plan your day ahead so even if there are sudden needs on-site that need to be addressed, you can squeeze them in without affecting your work schedule as much. Invest in construction scheduling software programs that help to keep all your necessary files in one place.

Simplicity is Key

Try to keep things as simple as possible. When addressing issues on-site as well as in the office, keep complicated jargon to a minimum and make sure everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume that everyone understood all the nitty gritty when it comes to the construction business. Tailor fit the jargon that you use when talking to different types of people because chances are, you’ll have better communication this way and it may lessen the stress of not getting your message across.


A good project manager knows how to communicate with his colleagues and subordinates. Talk regularly with your clients and colleagues and always solicit ideas for improvement. Keeping the communication channel open will help avoid any conflicts that may arise in the future due to miscommunication. Likewise, better communication helps to foster a better work environment. Be open to ideas from everyone on the team. When team members are heard, they feel more motivated to excel and go the extra mile.

Foster Positivity

Stress will always be around, no matter what you do to try to shut it out. Although it’s hard to always be positive especially when things don’t seem to go your way, always try your best to shed a positive light on things. Behind schedule? Rally your team and think of positive ways to move forward. A punch list deadline coming up? Motivate those involved to get the job done. As a project manager, people on the construction team will look to you for support. Be the positive light that guides the team to success.

Set Realistic Expectations

Tackle your goals one day at a time. Make a clear timeline for the whole team to agree upon and work around that. Don’t fret if you feel like you’re getting behind. Instead, think of ways where you can move the team forward. Deal with issues one day at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for you and any construction project.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The construction business has been known to be a macho industry and some may think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Knowing when and how to ask for help is far from showing signs of weakness, it is actually a strength to acknowledge that which you cannot tackle alone. Collaborate with the construction team and get to know your team members so that when the need arises, you know who to turn to.

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