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Project Manager : Project Manager Oct Nov 2012
36 Project Manager • CAREER CENTRE off from. And the pressure is only getting more intense. “Stress and burnout as we know it today – and the World Health Organisation is predicting a pandemic over the coming decade – is driven in part by modern pressures including the Global Financial Crisis, which has led to budget cuts and downsizing,” Robyn says. “ There’s also our expectation that we not only can, but should, ‘have it all’ – a career, family life and personal or social activities.” Project management is a profession that has all the key ma rkers for being an incubator for stress burnout. “It certainly is an environment filled with stressors – deadlines, changing expectations, ongoing deliverables, a require ment to manage others’ demands and personal agendas against the ultimate desired outcome. Plus, of course, it requires a high level of intellectual capability, which can itself push our personal stress limits at times.” Her own experience of having survived burnout is now going into increasing awareness and teaching ways of coping with unmanageable stress levels through Neuroscience as a Neuro Leadership coach. “I’m able to share my learnings and knowledge with others,” she says, and that has included developing various programs to combat burnout in ‘at risk ’ groups by focusing on how the human bra in functions at individual, team and systemic levels. “ Neuroscience as a method of overcoming stress and burnout is based on applying a ‘paradigm shift’ – a discontinuous and sometimes radical change in paradigm,” Robyn explains. “ The paradigm in which many workers now live includes constant stress as part of their mental model.” Re-wiring the brain through coaching encourages new ways of thinking that, in turn, bring about a positive change by recognising and coping with stress triggers. Ultimately, however, eliminating damaging stress from the workplace is in the hands of sufferers themselves by recognising the signs and not being embarrassed into silently suffering burnout because they think it means they are failing. “ Don’t ignore it and don’t give in to it,” Robyn advises. You can achieve your personal, professional and family goals without burning your life – you just need to learn how.” ••• DON'T LET YOUR STAFF BURN OUT Organisations need to keep in mind the financial implications of staff burnout. “In the United States, the cost of stress and stress-related problems to organisations has been estimated to be in excess of $150 billion annually,” wrote Jose M Bertolte and Alexandra Fleischmann from the World Health Organisation (WHO) just over a decade ago, and the numbers have not dropped since. The WHO suggests that clear and consistent goal-setting, encouraging staff to participate in decision making, and ensuring responsibility is shared across several staff members will help organisations reduce the impact and incidence of staff burnout, as will providing formal training in problem solving and conflict resolution. These practical tips may also help: 1 Discuss burnout. If stress is a taboo topic among managers, staff members are unlikely to seek help until it is too late. 2 Manage your own time. Employees feel their own stress more acutely when they can see their managers’ stress. 3 Provide formal training in managing time and stress. This will help staff arrange their tasks more effectively and also improve overall productivity. 4 Encourage work/life balance. Limit the extra hours worked by staff members who think coming in early, leaving late and taking work home are ways to keep up. 5 Delegate, don't abdicate. When you assign tasks and responsibilities to staff, check in regularly to see how they are going, rather than waiting until a deadline is not met. 6 Build a supportive team. Ways to encourage your staff members to become a supportive team range from the very simple through to those that may be more complex to implement, but rewarding. Most organisations make sure everyone leaves politics at the door and greets their colleagues in the morning. Many encourage team lunches, but does your office have informal spaces to promote conversations, team building and creative thinking? 7 Set a good example. If a manager is not doing their best to manage their time and stress, staff members won’t either. DON'T IGNORE IT, AND DON'T GIVE INTO IT
Project Manager Aug Sept 2012
Project Manager Dec Jan 2013