Everyday stressors add up, don’t they? Deadlines, responsibilities to your employers, spouse, or children, and the added nagging from TV to be one way or another all contribute to your stress load. In the end, your prize is depression for falling short and a knot in your back and tension in your shoulders. But so many everyday stressors can be avoided!
How about this for a familiar situation: let’s say there are a worker and a manager in an office. The manager assigns a piece of a project to the worker and expects a certain outcome. But when it’s time to take a look at what the worker’s got, the manager is disappointed, takes the project responsibility back, and finishes up.
It’s pretty stressful for both parties, right? Let’s see what everyone might be thinking.
From the worker’s point of view, there could be any number of stressors coming in. Let’s start with before the project is even assigned—this worker could feel like he’s waist deep in a ton of other projects, and now how’s he going to get this done? There might also be trouble outside of work that’s distracting, or even a big family event like a wedding or graduation that gets his mind off his work. An open dialog, initiated by either side, could help gauge some of these levels of distraction.
Now, when the manager drops off the project, there’s always a chance that priorities aren’t communicated well enough or some details are left out. It’s also possible that a little bit of extra attention could have been enough to keep the project productive and moving in the right direction. By asking for help or advice, a non-standard project gets a better chance of coming out that way it was meant to.
A manager doesn’t live in a vacuum—there are still other people that he answers to. Directors and executives, even clients and consultants all look toward the manager to be their conduit between decisions and action. And if they feel that a project needs special attention, he feels it as well.
So to get the results he’s looking for instead of micromanaging or restarting from scratch, communication is the key. That means come in with everything clear and handy. Checklists, templates, examples, instructions—anything to bridge the gap between what the manager says and what the worker hears.
Another way to cut down on stress is to take smaller bites. Instead of popping in on the date of a benchmark, check in frequently to see how even small progress is going. Ask if there’s anything that you can do to enable the worker, like arrange for resources or time with experts. If there’s no collaboration, then it will be hard to get the result the manager wants.
The project and workplace definitely adds to the tension, but it’s probably not the only one. Here are 10 great ways to manage your stress: