Construction crew management can certainly be stressful for a project manager who needs to carry out a lot of responsibilities every day. But with a reliable project management software at hand and a few practical tips to shake off the stress, the site can actually become a happier workplace. Find out more below.
The construction industry in the United States is booming despite the ongoing labor shortage. In fact, in 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 400,000 construction management jobs in the country alone (2016) and this number is still expected to grow by 11% until 2026. This only shows that there is a strong demand for project managers in the industry.
On top of this, a project manager receives an average annual salary of $93,370, which isn’t too bad as it is 2.5x more than any other salaries across all jobs.
But despite these shiny numbers, fewer brave people take on the job of being a project manager. Many may be applying for the job but after a project or two, they give up. And one of the main reasons for this is stress.
We already talked about how much responsibilities a project manager has in one of our recent blogs. Monitoring crew activities alone can be a headache, most especially when the project is at such a large scale and hundreds of workers are employed to complete the project.
But in a day, the project manager does more than just checking on employees. He tracks accomplishments and compare them with the schedule and plan, calculates expenditures to see if they’ve gone beyond the budget, writes daily deports for the client, plans adjustments when problems arise, strategizes on enhancing efficiency when workers are far from reaching their goals, and so on. So just imagine how hectic a single day could be for a project manager.
It has already become a normal part of a project manager’s day.
Causes of a Project Manager’s Stress
Construction, as we all already know, is a busy industry. It’s always seen as hard work that requires a variety of skill sets. Everyone in this line of work gets a lot of pressure, but not as much as what the project manager gets.
He’s expected to perform at a higher level than anyone else in his team. This alone can already wear out a leader so what more when he’s to remedy all issues occurring at the site.
So if you are someone who wants to work in the industry, be sure to know everything that a project management job entails. That includes the sources of stress.
Stress is something that we all want to avoid. But unfortunately, it has been found out to be the leading cause of human illness in this modern world. Some include peptic ulcer, heart diseases, and stroke. Many people suffering under great stress tend to overeat and lose sleep. Later, they experience a reduced grey matter in the brain, which often leads to future psychiatric problems. And most commonly, stress causes a person to become short tempered and irrational.
Unrelated it may seem but all of these aren’t something a project manager can’t afford to have when he wants to be productive at work and his project to be successful. Stress leads to more stress and no one wants to work with a stressed out leader. When a project manager is under stress, he can destroy his relationship with his crew member and you already know what comes next – problems in the operation.
So what could possibly stress out a project manager? Here are 10 possible causes:
- Danger at work
- Uncooperative team
- Long working hours
- Financial and health risky
- Unpredictable daily schedule
- Conflicts and disputes
- Errors in operation
- Over budget
- Inconsistent reports
While it seems like everything about his work can stress him out, there are definitely steps a project manager can take to lessen his stress.
Ways to Handle Stress in Construction
First time project managers can find it difficult to adjust to their tasks, most especially when they are already given a huge project in their first deployment.
Monitoring the project can really be exhausting. But you still need to get used to people ranting, changes of plan, errors, and other kinds of issues at the site. If you aren’t mind-strong, you can collapse as soon as you see how a construction project can become chaotic.
But why are some project managers so calm and relaxed? They seem to handle everything so well and get tasks done correctly.
Could it be that they were just lucky to have a simpler project? Or could it be because they are already experienced?
Well, some projects are indeed easier than the others. And experienced project managers are indeed bound to handle the job well as they already know what can stress them out and how to deal with them.
But even newbie construction project managers can have a good first-time experience, only when he knows how to de-stress his life at the site.
How can he do it?
- Plan the Project Properly
Whether it’s an error or over budget or unsynchronized activities that stresses you out, the answer to them is proper planning.
Start your project with a good foundation by planning the project properly. This helps avoid many crises that can stress you out. And like we already mentioned in our previous blogs, proper planning includes selecting the right construction methods to use, making sure that materials and equipment are delivered on time, delegating tasks to the right people, thorough cost and schedule planning, and so on.
It can be tedious but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Use a project management software during your planning stage to keep your plans organized and ready for distribution to your crew members when the operation starts.
There is also the need for daily planning as your members can do more or less of what you assigned to them on the previous day. Be prepared for changes but don’t feel discouraged when your plan isn’t followed. You can’t predict what happens in a day so it’s okay for as long as your team catches up so delays won’t result to days.
- Effective Time Management
In our previous blog about time management, we mentioned how effective time management can reduce delays and chances of going over budget. When these two are taken out of the equation, surely, problems won’t arise and the project manager faces lesser stressors.
Learn good construction crew management techniques, plan well, schedule tasks efficiently, avoid distractions, use time saving tools and project management software like Pro Crew Schedule, and delegate tasks wisely to manage time effectively.
- Employ the Right Team
It’s important to employ the right people to avoid problems like errors from happening. A project isn’t built by just one person but by a team, but it would be more stressful when you get all the wrong people to do construction. Besides, you can’t afford to deliver a substandard building to your client who can push legal complaints against you when you break the contract.
But since there is an ongoing labor crisis, it can’t be helped but hire inexperienced people. Make sure to have them go under useful training before sending them to the site and distribute them to teams where they join your experienced workers and foremen.
Check on their work attitude too. If they are causing more problems than contributing to the project’s success, then it’s time to kick them out and find a replacement.
- Delegate Tasks Effectively
Apart from hiring committed people to work on a project with you, you also need to learn how to delegate tasks effectively. Be sure to appoint certain tasks to people who have the right knowledge and authority to execute them. This is to make sure that errors are avoided and results are satisfactory.
- Ask for help
Even though you are the leader of the team, people won’t expect you to know everything. Even experienced project managers need help from the mid management in delegating tasks and setting schedules.
Being proud and not asking for help or advice when necessary can cause problems. So share the burden with people who can help you or drown in problems and face delays.
- Effective Problem Detection and Solving
Sometimes, project managers don’t see signs of problems when they are still developing. They’d only notice the issues when they are already big and already affected the operations.
Although it’s hard, try to predict problems before they happen and plan for mitigation or contingencies. Previous project documents can help you so review past files saved on your project management software’s cloud folders.
Consult with more experienced personnel too like foremen on what problems usually take place on the site and how they’re likely to affect the project as well as possible solutions. Brainstorming with relative personnel can help you prevent problems from happening.
- Don’t Commit to Unreasonable Timelines
Schedules that are too tight can cause you and your team to cram which often results to errors or substandard work. And you know how these can wear you out. So be sure to study the suggested deadline, compare it with the schedule you prepared , and learn to say no when the timeline isn’t feasible.
- Take Some Time Out
There are a lot of times when a project manager needs to go over time, most especially when problems need to be resolved urgently. But after the issues are resolved and it’s the weekend, learn to switch off. Plan a day away and reset the button so you can go back to work with a more positive outlook and attitude. It isn’t bad to recharge. Everyone needs it at times. Besides , a happier mind translates into less stress at work.
- Don’t Take Things Personally
Delays and errors are almost a normal part of any construction project, though they can be prevented. Mistakes will happen and you can get some scolding from the higher management or even the client. Don’t take it personally and become angry and truculent. It’s a part of your job since you are a leader. And since you are the leader any mistake committed by your member becomes your responsibility. And just like you, problems can stress them out too.
Remember, negative thoughts won’t do any good to you. Contemplating too much on the curses you received will only wear you out and take valuable time away from getting the job done.
- Know Which Battles to Fight
Not all arguments are worth winning. Sometimes , you are just being scolded and it’s easier when you admit your mistakes. Look at the bigger picture and don’t be pinned down by making excuses or bogged down in petty squabbles.
You have to admit that you can’t do everything and you aren’t perfect. It’s okay to make minor mistakes. The solution is to resolve the issue and be keener the next time around to avoid making the same mistakes.
- Avoid Worrying
Overthinking and worrying too much about things that haven’t happened yet can be a major cause of stress and sleepless nights. There are things you can’t control. Leave work issues at the workplace so you can breathe and rest at home. The key is to always be prepared when things go wrong and be quick in taking action so the problems won’t grow bigger.
In a huge workplace such as the construction site, project managers are really bound to meet a lot of stressors. From tasks to crew members, suppliers and clients, all of these can become sources of stress.
However, there are also solutions to them. Practice a more positive outlook in life so you won’t see everything at the site as problematic. Learn to use tools like project management software to lessen the load. Share the burden and finish the job more satisfactorily.