Stress In – Creativity Out
Conquering Stress on the Project Team
The Tough Road Ahead
The talking points created for virtually every Project Team kick-off meeting include some variation of phrase that acknowledges, by way of prediction, that the project will be a challenging one. Many long hours and extra effort must be expected. A declaration that there will be stress also requires an understanding of what needs to be done to minimize the onset of the physical and mental manifestations of stress – confusion, irritation, frustration, passive-aggression, and poor performance.
A successful project has leaders who understand that they can conquer stress and they take on the responsibility to do so. Winning against stress means creating a sanctuary of support. It is not much of a stretch to compare a project to a garden. Whether the garden is good or not depends on quality soil, good space, good light, sufficient sustenance, and the care of a knowledgeable gardener. Translation: quality planning, good work environment, good communication, sufficient feedback, and the care of a knowledgeable leader.
Stress is reduced in a business environment where ideas are welcome, risk taking is rewarded, and the freedom to fail is embedded in the principles and culture. In such an environment, employees will tend to differentiate their problems, prioritize their significance, and leave much of their external problems out of the office. If people are welcome to present new approaches, engage in new thinking, and feel more in control at work, it is easy to see where people will spend their mental energy. Great leaders and great consultants ensure that people have control over the tasks assigned to them and the competence and support necessary to accomplish those tasks. They solicit feedback and provide encouragement. They spread quality information instead of confusion. They approach each day with good will and good humor.
Freedom from stress opens the mind space. Without the clutter of confusion, anxiety, misapprehension and the contagion of stress, the mind is free to create. Creativity can happen very quickly and unexpectedly, but it must have mind space to happen at all. The less the organization stresses, the more creative it is likely to become. Projects will benefit from having the full attention of its participants. Issues will be explored more deeply, and their resolutions will be longer lasting and of higher quality. There will be more energy, more positive outlooks, more smiles, and a greater sense of belonging to something that has meaning and importance. The organization will be more effective each moment and every individual will have the opportunity, the support, and the freedom to feel worthy.