Stress in project management

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

With deadlines, budgets, demanding stakeholders, time zone clashes, and an endless stream of emails, project management is full of stress triggers.

Many of us consider it an unavoidable consequence of the work we do, but chronic stress can be deadly.

In this podcast, Susanne Madsen speaks to Elise Stevens about how to recognise the signs of stress, and stop it in its tracks.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Everyone reacts differently to stress.
  • Some common symptoms of stress include: loss of focus, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, poor digestion, decreased energy, insomnia, chronic pain and headaches, chest pain and changes in appetite.
  • We can learn to control our response to stress triggers so we do not fall victim to stress-inducing environments.
  • Stress in our personal lives can compound work stress.
  • When stress arises, taking 10 seconds to breathe deeply can help calm the mind and return our thinking to the logic centre of the brain. Similarly, changing our physical surroundings, such as taking a short walk, can also change our mindset.
  • Counselling, meditation, regular exercise and a balanced diet can all help to mitigate stress.
  • It is important to accept that we can fail, that we’re not perfect and that it’s ok to ask for help. Expressing your concerns about stress and setting some personal boundaries can encourage others to do the same.
  • Project leaders should consider whether they are putting undue stress on themselves or their team. Setting up some ground rules about what behaviours are expected, how conflict will be dealt with, and how stress will be managed can be valuable.
  • Project managers should consider introducing stress relief exercises into meetings, for example: group meditation or reflection.
  • Having an established methodology, language, roles and responsibilities for project delivery can help reduce stress on employees.
  • If stress becomes unmanageable, it might be time to remove yourself from the unhealthy environment.

About Susanne Madsen:

Susanne Madsen is an internationally recognised project leadership coach, trainer and consultant and the founder and director of Susanne Madsen International Ltd. Susanne also founded The Project Leadership Institute in 2017. She has extensive experience in the corporate sector, having worked for Standard Bank, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and is the author of two books, The Project Management Coaching Workbook and The Power of Project Leadership.

You can connect with Susanne on LinkedIn