Stress Management and Events
Stress is the part and parcel of event management. Every event professional is under constant stress throughout the execution of an event.
While moderate amount of stress is necessary in order to give optimum results, a prolonged stress that exist for weeks, months and some times years can create three types of problems in an individual:
1) Physiological problems like heart diseases, high blood pressure, migraine, diabetes, asthma, obesity, infertility etc.
2) Psychological problems like anxiety, depression, lack of concentration etc.
3) Behavioral problems like sleeplessness, overeating, under eating, absenteeism etc.
As an event manager it is your job to take care of both physiological and psychological health of yourself and your team members. For this find out the signs of stress, causes for stress and then formulate, prepare and implement strategies for coping stress.
Signs of Stress
Common physical symptoms: headaches, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, dizziness, weight gain or loss, insomnia, frequent cold etc
Common emotional symptoms: moodiness, restlessness, depression, general unhappiness, feeling of loneliness and isolation, impatience, Irritability etc.
Common behavioral symptoms: over eating, under eating, sleeping too much or too little, overdoing activities, nail biting, pacing, neglecting responsibilities, isolating oneself from others, drinking too much alcohol, smoking too many cigarettes, taking drugs to relax etc.
Common Cognitive Symptoms: memory loss, lack of concentration, poor judgment, negativity, fearful anticipation etc.
Note: These symptoms of stress vary from person to person, as each person has different personality, perception, stress tolerance level and support network of family and friends.
Further reading: Understanding stress, signs, symptoms, causes and effects)
Causes for Stress
There can be ĎNí number of causes for stress like:
1) Major change in life situation: marriage, divorce, unexpected pregnancy, child birth, new job, getting fired, retirement, accident, death of a dear one, facing jail term etc
2) Work related stress: job dissatisfaction, role conflict, role ambiguity, office politics, interpersonal conflicts, insufficient pay, work overload, racial/sexual discrimination or harrasement etc.
3) Environment related stress: poor physical condition of the workplace, pollution, noise, too much cold or too much heat, unsafe neighbourhood etc.
4) Other Stressors: personal problems (like perfectionism, low self esteem, pessimism, unrealistic goals etc), family problems, financial problems, lack of support from family and friends etc.
Strategies for Coping Stress
As an event manager you can do following things to reduce stress:
1) Set realistic goals for yourself and for your team.
2) Avoid all those people and situations which cause stress
3) If a person is experiencing job dissatisfaction, then determine his needs (social needs, esteem needs etc) and satisfy them through various financial and non-financial incentives available for need satisfaction. Design job for a person in such a way, that it is able to utilize his skills and abilities and at the same time satisfy his needs.
4) Role conflict (like taking care of guests and handling technicians both at the same time) and role ambiguity (what one is expected to do) both cause severe stress to a team member. So as an event manager it is your responsibility to design a job for a person in such a way that he faces minimal role conflict and has no role ambiguity.
5) Discourage politics and favoritism at the work place.
6) Resolve interpersonal conflicts quickly and judiciously.
7) Prepare a policy handbook that prevents and address all type of harassments (emotional, physical and sexual) and discriminations. The handbook should clearly state, that the consequences of not abiding by the policy handbook will be severe. Distribute the copies of the hand book to all the team members and ask them to go through it completely.
8) Make sure that all the physiological needs (need to have food, water, warmth, shelter and other things necessary for smooth working) of your team are met from time to time during the event.
9) Protect your team from psychological harm by making sure there are no internal conflicts (like ego clashes, altercations, conflict of interest etc) among team members. If there are conflicts, then resolve them judiciously. Providing job security to your team is also very important. At no point any team member should feel that his job is under threat either by your actions or by someone else actions. Take care of your team beyond the work place. If any team member is facing a financial problem, then help him as much as you can.
10) A team member will not perform his best if he has considerable family problems. Try whatever you can to reduce his family problems. If you canít do much at least accept his problems and empathize with him. Try to reduce his stress by giving him a day off or engaging him in the sport he likes the most. Ask you team members to be as supportive to him as possible. All this will help.
11) Majority of stress in an event is due to poor time management. It is hard to remain calm and focused when things are not going the way they should and you are running behind schedule. Plan ahead and plan each and every activity in great details. Thatís the only solution.
12) Include rest and relaxation time in your daily schedule for yourself and for your team members.
13) Encourage yourself and others to adopt a healthy lifestyle like regular exercise, nutritious diet, yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage, sports etc.
Further Reading: Stress Management - How to reduce, prevent and cope with stress