5 Tips for Project Managers to Handle Roadblocks and Minimize Stress

Within a team, project managers are the ones most responsible for the overall health of every project. From managing deadlines to finding workarounds to problems to making sure all team members are moving in the same direction, the project manager has to be ready to deal with the unexpected.

managing roadblocks and stressBut along with this responsibility comes a fair bit of stress, too. If not managed properly and early on, these issues and the resulting paralysis can compound and ultimately derail the original project objectives and deadlines.

What are the best ways to deal with any roadblocks and lower stress levels when acting as a project manager?

Here are five tips to help you manage those fears and thrive.

Take a step back and think through problems slowly

It’s common to want to get every task done immediately since we’re always pushing to get things done on time. This sense of urgency usually keeps us from taking the time to really think through an issue. By taking a moment to revisit the issue, adjust the approach or create a new project plan, you will push through the roadblock and steer the project back on track with the idea of having a minimal impact to the schedule for each of the team members.

Common questions to answer while working through the issue:

  • What is the main cause of the issue?
  • Who can help provide the information needed to resolve the issue?
  • What is the impact of the issue on the current schedule?
  • What impact will the resolution have on the current schedule?

These questions will help formulate the action plan for resolving the issue at hand and bring the whole team up to date on the project status. It will also give the team confidence in carrying out a project to completion even when faced with unplanned detours.

Capture everything in writing (or a digital notepad)

Project managers do many things, but one of the most essential tasks we’re responsible for is taking notes. Whether in a meeting with stakeholders or discussing something seemingly small with the internal team, keeping a complete record of what was discussed reminds us of the details that are needed to keep everyone informed and involved with the project. Notes will be the first source to refer back to whenever any issue arises.

Face your mistakes head on and correct them

Knowing you will make mistakes helps you realize that when they do occur, the best thing to do is to learn from them and keep using these as building blocks to get the process right. Looking at where you made a mistake in a given situation is a great opportunity to dissect the different pieces of the issue. Keep an understanding of the situation and use it to build your confidence, rather than letting mistakes lead to finger-pointing and placing blame. As the PM, you are the project owner and will become better with each experience, good and bad.

Remember the main objective

With so many moving parts in a project, it’s easy to forget the main goal. You’re pulled in different directions, you lose track of time, and the whole world starts to be against every single decision you make. As a project manager, you have the best knowledge of the project and can take timeouts whenever you need to address any issues that create stress. If drama is afoot, handle it in the best way you know how. Understanding that your team looks to you to fix the situation will help you internalize any stress and realize that you do have all the tools needed to rectify any issues that arise.

Stay calm and keep your cool

Finally, keep calm and project manage. It’s a clichéd phrase that has graced so many Facebook feeds and t-shirts in recent memory, but it is essential to know that you shouldn’t let your attitude affect anyone else. Getting fresh air, taking a walks, and chatting with co-workers over the last episode of that HBO original series that everyone has been talking about can help relieve unwanted stress. Staying calm and remembering you’re doing this with your fellow human beings will keep your sanity and your team in good standing.

Taking a moment to remember these key points will help you manage your day more efficiently and make your team love working with you. Expectations rarely align completely with reality for Project Managers, but remembering these tips will go a long way in resolving any roadblocks and eliminating any unwanted stress.

Derrick Calacsan

A native to the SF Bay Area, Derrick is a project manager specializing in the software and digital tech industries. Derrick interfaces with clients to track the status of project deliverables while managing the day-to-day duties of the agency. B.S. in Biology from U.C. Davis, with a Minor in Film Studies.

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