A friend recently asked me how I manage stress at work because it seemed that I didn’t show any outward signs of stress compared to him. I can’t really comment on that without knowing what his work environment is all about, but what I can say is that the same instances that used to stress me out 10 years ago don’t bother me as much now.
Aside from more experience grounding you and making you realize that life goes on in spite of what seems like the end of the world, there are a few practices and philosophies that I have consciously or subconsciously adopted. Much of this is common sense but are good reminders and would apply no matter what you do for a living – whether you are in sales, a developer, a project manager, or a systems administrator.
1. Set appropriate expectations with your clients and colleagues. If you think delivering on something will take longer than the client thinks, consult them on that fact and let them know why. Give them an idea on what to expect from you throughout the process and stick to it. Don’t agree to take anything on that you cannot deliver and don’t make promises you’re not sure you can keep. It’s tempting to, especially when you’re just starting out, but it won’t turn out well in the end.
2. Try to document everything so that everyone is on the same page and you have something concrete to refer back to if there is a discrepancy. This includes any contracts that need to be set up at the beginning, or even just an email throughout a process.
3. Always, always communicate. Have a schedule for updates or touch points and stick to it. If there is a reason why you cannot meet a deadline, communicate it early and tell the client why.
4. If you are waiting for pieces of information from others in order to complete your task, ask others in a humble way and try to explain why it is in their best interest to provide the information.
5. Own up to your mistakes quickly and learn from them. Be accountable. The longer you wait to admit to the mistake, the harder it gets to do so and it will eat at you.
6. It’s important to vent once in a while as long as you don’t overdo it with your partner or your friend. Make sure to reciprocate as your partner/friend undergoes some stress once in a while too!
7. An agreement has to be mutually beneficial for both parties. Some items will be rigid and some will be up for negotiation. If you can’t come to an agreement, as difficult as it is, walk away.
8. Remember, you always have choices. If it really is too much to handle, there is no golden rule that states you have to stay in the job you are in. There are other great companies, other great jobs.
9. Think positively. We are fortunate to live in this country and in a city like Vancouver where we get to look at this everyday:
At the end of the day, we are lucky to have such problems.
10. Very important is to live with integrity. The number one quality that SIGnature Recruiting looks for in employees is a high degree of ethics. If you can finish the day knowing that you have done the right thing, you’ll sleep much better at night.
How do you manage stress? Share your tips!
Rachel Shen, Managing Director