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  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Help, I am only 35 and I have Diabetes! Sudha Jayaram & Sabita Prasad Behaviour specialists, Sabcons Project Management Consultants, Bangalore, India2|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Contents 1 Abstract..............................................................................................................................4 2 Help, I am only 35 and I have diabetes!.............................................................................4 3 Sabcons Research: .............................................................................................................5 4 Awareness is very low in both the groups:........................................................................7 5 About Stress:......................................................................................................................7 6 Science behind Stress:........................................................................................................8 7 Signs & symptoms of Stress:.............................................................................................8 8 Types of Stress...................................................................................................................9 9 What causes Stress at the Work-place?..............................................................................9 10 Life style, Job Stress & Diabetes - A Case study: ........................................................10 11 Understanding personality-related stress........................................................................11 12 Managing Stress at the work-place................................................................................12 13 Concept of Pancha Khoshas...........................................................................................13 14 Other steps: ...................................................................................................................14 15 Project Managers must ACT: ........................................................................................14 16 Organizational level: SECRET of Stress management..................................................15 17 Stress Busters during the work day:...............................................................................16 18 Conclusion: ....................................................................................................................17 19 Resources:......................................................................................................................17 20 Author Profile:................................................................................................................183|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 1 Abstract Objective: Deadlines, Divorce, Depression and Diabetes – a new trend has emerged today especially in the IT/ITES sector due to work/ project-related stress. How can leaders /management help? Our objective is to explore the tools and techniques that can become a part of project processes to beat this stress before it beats you completely. Scope: A primary research survey of 430 professionals explores this dangerous trend. Diabetes at 35, depression, anxiety, and insomnia are common and are leading professionals, especially IT-men and women to early retirements or job- hopping in search of an improved work-atmosphere. Real life case studies, experiences shared in the workshops conducted by the Authors, eminent doctors, psychologists and counsellors have contributed insights to this paper. Business value: Stress related attrition, absence from work or lacklustre performances are quietly bleeding crores of rupees from the bottom lines of India Inc. Proactive action at both individual and organizational levels can slow this down and add 15-20% to the bottom lines of the companies 2 Help, I am only 35 and I have diabetes! Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India held a candle-light vigil recently for Mr. Prabhakaran, an IT professional. Unable to cope with the enormous challenge and pressure of his current project1, he committed suicide leaving his colleagues and fellow professionals in a state of shock and despair! Ashok2, working in the graveyard shift in a KPO, went berserk smashing computers and yelling curses during a client call and had to be transferred to an ambulance under sedation. The deadly combination of despair caused by lack of expertise to deal with the technical demands of his role and the divorce proceedings initiated by his new bride who could not adjust to his odd timings or moods was too much for him. D factor: Deadlines, Depression, Diabetes, Divorce... Why is the deadly D- factor gaining? Back aches, migraines, or even divorces due to the current working/ life styles seemed to surprise no one these days. Will1 Deccan Herald & The Hindu 23 April 2011-Real life reporting2 Name changed to protect the privacy of the concerned individual4|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India diabetes and depression at least shock people into contemplation if not action? .The internet jokes do not indicate so. • “Prepare to lose all hair by 30 if you are in the IT sector” says one. • “If Rajnikant were to work in a BPO, the clients will work in shifts” says another implying wishful thinking. A sense of resignation seems to have crept in to our psyche about the current work practices and the consequences. Industries such as IT/ITES have some of the best leadership in Modern India and helped build the nation through creation of life-changing and saving software in Aviation, Medicare and Telecom, to name a few. Why do they allow this to happen to their most important resource - the human capital? 3 Sabcons Research: "Everyone knows what stress is, but nobody really knows.” Hans Seyle, Father of Stress Research”. As Corporate trainers, we often have participants (especially from IT/ITES) sharing their realities/ concerns with us. Most are unaware that their current lifestyle exposes them to long-term stress and its consequences. This led us to take up research with the following objectives: Research Objectives: 1. To understand the current level of awareness about the adverse effects of long term-stress. 2. To find out the triggers for stress at the work-places (Stressors). A comparison was made to ascertain • If the respondents from IT/ITES sector which face higher stress levels are better aware of the implications of long-term stress. • Whether the Stressors identified by them are significantly different from those identified by respondents from other industries.5|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India The discussion is further extended to the processes and practices that Organizations/ Project Managers and HR Managers can implement as proactive action for the overall well-being of the employee, treating Stress Management as a part of the “Project Risk Management” practice. Primary Research: • On-Line Survey: An on-line survey was conducted and the results analysed. 430 responses were received, of which 266 of the responses were from IT/ITES sector. • Real life case studies: These are drawn from our workshops (names changed to protect privacy). • Primary observation: To understand why people behave the way they do has always been of professional interest to the authors who have more than 25 years’ experience each. • Secondary Research: Information is drawn from media, ancient Indian texts, and published research on the subject. Research results: Level of awareness about the adverse effect of long term stress: Graph-16|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 4 Awareness is very low in both the groups: • IT/ITES sector employees have longer shifts, longer commutes, frequent deadlines. • Though empirical evidence may not have been gathered yet, sufficient anecdotal evidence exists about the “D factor” in their lives. • Vocally expressed concern about work-life balance being a challenge (at best, nightmare at worst) has been frequently encountered in our workshops. • Awareness about the stress “D factor” is only slightly higher at 33% in IT group as compared to Non-IT (29.2%). • Further analysis of the “Aware” groups showed that only 27% of the IT and 30% of the Non-IT took time out for exercise.24% of the IT-group expressed that they were too busy to take out time for any stress buster activity such as exercise, hobbies or even just chilling. This is much higher than 10% of such responses from Non-It group 5 About Stress: The term "Stress", was originally coined by Hans Selye in 1936 3 and is now understood as the reaction triggered by external factors called Stressors (action, event or situation) that place excessive psychological and physical demands on the person. Selye classified stress as “Eustress” or the good stress which helps us perform better and the “Distress” which has negative consequences. The primary function of stress is to prepare the body for physical activity through3 The American Institute of Stress-http://www.stress.org/hans.htm7|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India “fight or flight” to meet the demand. When stress is prolonged and continuous, it becomes a precursor conditions like hypertension, diabetes, depression etc. Selye developed the theory that “stress is a major cause of disease because chronic stress causes long-term chemical changes”. 6 Science behind Stress: • Faced with Stress, the sympathetic nervous system induces increased respiratory & heart rates, sweating, increase in blood glucose and decreased secretion of digestive juices etc. • Hypothalamus in the brain triggers the endocrine glands that secrete highly potent chemicals or hormones like corticosteroids and thyroxin. These affect circulation, respiration and digestion. • Once the stress situation is overcome, the parasympathetic nervous system sets in the balance and brings back homeostasis. However, if stress persists, the body remains at high alert and the chemicals released begin the wear and tear of the different organ systems. Understanding this will help to keep stress at bay and prevent one from making the suicidal jump from Eustress to Distress. 7 Signs & symptoms of Stress: Researchers have identified various signs of stress. Ironically, being stressed itself is one of the main barriers to thinking constructively about how to deal with stress! Mental Emotional • Inability to concentrate • Low self esteem • Undue tiredness • Angry outbursts / ready tears • Erratic thinking, loss of perspective • Anxiety, Moods • Memory lapses • Feeling low/ depressed Physical Behavioural • Palpitations • Alcohol consumption /smoking • Restlessness • Accident prone • Excessive sweating • Workaholic or absconding from work • Knot in stomach/ Nausea • Loss of appetite /sleep • Impotence • Lethargy8|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 8 Types of Stress Anything that evokes a stress response is termed a “stressor”. Based on the stressor, the stress at the workplace can be classified as follows: a) Physical stress: Long hours/commutes/eye-strain /tiredness due to odd timings etc. b) Mental stress: Work that demands high level of concentration leading to “mental fatigue”. c) Emotional stress: Stress generated by emotional responses to various stimuli, particularly people. 9 What causes Stress at the Work-place? Different persons react differently to external events and people. What stresses one person may not stress another at all. We asked our respondents to name their Stressor at the work-place. Research results: Graph 2: What are the Stressors at the workplace? 1. The shocking revelation is that a majority of respondents from both IT (50%) & Non-IT (57.7%) sectors have identified “People (representing Emotional stress caused by inter-personal conflicts/ office politics/ lack of team cohesiveness and so on) as the Stressor at the work-place.9|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 2. Situations such as long commutes, long working hours & traffic jams that cause “Physical stress” are next in line of Stressors identified (IT slightly higher at 23% compared to Non-IT at 20.4%). 3. Mental stress i.e., work-related appears third with lesser people from IT/ITES (12%) identifying it as a Stressor as compared to Non-IT (15.3%). 4. Surprisingly, the percentage of persons from IT identifying their own attributes (representing factors internal to self such as lethargy, inexperience, short temper etc) as a Stressor is much higher at 15% when compared to Non-IT. It reveals a higher level of self-criticism & awareness in them. 10 Life style, Job Stress & Diabetes - A Case study: Abhishek was 26 when he joined the ITES sector. An easy-to-please person, he had no issues about the night shifts or sudden changes in timings. He left home by 7.00 pm for the 9.00 pm shift (long commute) and experimented with egg- puffs to pizzas & pooris that the canteen offered for his dinner. On the return journey, he ate “Vadas & Uppma” from the road side and hit the bed before his family woke up. His sleep was disturbed by the sounds of life around him (vegetable vendor, cooker whistles, telephones, TV) but no one seemed to care. Week-ends were for enjoying and were spent in eating and beer drinking binges. Team movies were snored through. As he climbed the corporate ladder, his weight too increased and waist line kept pace. At work, his company took on more and more processes and recruited younger and younger persons (including 12th standard pass-outs) .The lack of training, seriousness, and language skills in his team made Abhishek impatient and angry several times each night. Over the years, Abhishek became an easy-to-irritate person. Finally medical problems started; swollen feet, frequent urination, constant hunger. A routine test delivered the dreaded result; Abhishek had developed diabetes at age of 35. Stressful experiences have been implicated in the onset of diabetes in individuals already predisposed to developing the disease4. Today, diabetes has been classified as a life style disease, triggered by modern life style even in individuals who are not predisposed to it.4 Cathy Lloyd, PhD; Julie Smith, BSc, RGN, MSc; and Katie Weinger, EdD, RN Diabetes SpectrumVolume 18, Number 2, 2005 Stress and Diabetes: A Review of the Links10|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India (DN=don’t know) The results for a question that was asked to predict their health ten years down the line, given their current life style once again threw up an interesting pattern. Both the groups gave comparable results. 11 Understanding personality-related stress Case study Raj, an achiever from the word go, was judged as the best performer for three consecutive years in a top MNC. Work-pressure and challenges gave him a high. Raj had no patience with his team-mates who were not up to the mark .Cups of coffee were his constant companions and food was incidental. It was around this time that his stomach seemed to have started a ‘morcha’. The diagnosis came in after a month; ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’, triggered by stress that leaves behind an extremely sensitive digestive tract. Medication did not help and the situation left Raj tense and anxious leading to sleeplessness and low confidence. Result: his work is now not up to mark. It is a big loss to the project and his company. A look at the typical attributes of different personality types drawn from the Jacob Goldsmith theory helps to understand the case above. Type A personality: People with "Type A" personalities, are rushed, time- conscious, ambitious, impatient, prone to challenging themselves always. They are irritated when others do not match their speed or ambition and are prone to11|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India stress-related illnesses and are especially vulnerable to heart attacks. Raj, in the case study above was of this type and was lucky to have got away with just IBS. Type B personality: The "Type B" personality is more relaxed, He/she is better able to put things into perspective, and think through about when dealing with situations. They tend to be less stress-prone. Type C personality: “Type C” personality has a tendency to be introverted, respectful, eager to please, conforming and compliant. They appear effective but tend to collapse in the course of time under accumulated stressors. This pattern of behaviour can trigger depression and auto immune diseases by lowering the body immunity. Case study Shekhar, a team-lead with a decade’s experience was diagnosed with mild depression when he started being lacklustre, had low energy and was unable to meet deadlines. He had this to say to his counsellor -”I always try not to hurt others. When a resource in my team does not perform, I take on the heat; I take the blame. Nor can I say “NO” to others, as I always put others first.” What was interesting was Shekhar was unaware of his pattern and the fact that his behaviour which he believed was relationship building was in fact leading to his own downfall. He is a typical type C person. When he realized his patterns, he made a quick recovery and his work improved benefiting the project. Are Project Managers and team members aware of their patterns of contributing to increased stress levels in themselves and in others? 12 Managing Stress at the work-place “For my Stress stems from the urge to help and not to judge”- Hans Selye-1950 Is Stress management the individual’s issue or an organization issue? Work- place stress bleeds time and energy, taking away about 15-20% of the productivity. The cost of replacing resources that leave is an added burden. It therefore makes business sense for organizations to take a proactive role and get every employee involved in an informed way in keeping stress at bay. Stress Management: Individual Level12|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Stress is our response to various external stressors. Majority of the respondents in both IT and Non-IT sectors have indicated “People” and their behavior as a stressor. Improving our own ability to deal with others would help a great deal in managing others. It also helps to know that: • Lack of sleep, tiredness, irregular & improper diet etc reduce the capacity and energy to deal with others. • Anxiety, irritability & negative energy flowing from us are reflected back at us by others. 13 Concept of Pancha Khoshas Concept of managing the Pancha koshas from Taittiriya Upanishad to deal with self is suggested. Pancha koshas or the five sheaths help us understand what is ‘self’ and give an insight to managing stress at individual level. Each layer is more subtle and deeper than the former. The khoshas are represented by: 1. Annamaya Khosha: This is the outermost sheath or the gross body which needs to be nourished with the right food at the right time in the right quantity. Sleep of not less than 6 to 7 hours per day and moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes per day is recommended to keep the body stress free. The focus is on building stress-fighting abilities. 2. Pranamaya Kosha: The pranic flows are in the blood, lymphatic and nervous circulation, the balance of which is achieved by regulation of breath and deep breathing techniques. Observe the breath and get into deep abdominal breathing during times of stress to minimize the effects. 3. Manomaya Khosha: The manomaya kosha is also known as the perceptual body, which constitutes the mind and the organs of perception. It is also the seat of emotional turmoil or balance. A mind that is not aware coupled with imbalance in the annamaya and prananmaya khoshas is said to be source for most diseases. 4. Vigyanamaya Khosha: This body is responsible for inner growth, for ethics and for morals, for acquiring and implementing self knowledge to manage stress and self effectively. 5. Anandamaya Kosha: It is the most subtle body that facilitates staying in a state of bliss irrespective of outer circumstances. It is hugely dependent on the balancing of the other khoshas.13|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 14 Other steps: Concept of balanced Life: Stephen Covey has evolved a “Balanced life” concept where one needs to touch base with our four needs; which are Physical, Social, Mental & Spiritual needs. He illustrates the benefits of a balanced approach and the importance of every sphere. For instance, “If you have a problem in the social area, maybe you are going through divorce, attention to the other three areas i.e. physical, mental and spiritual areas increases ability to handle crisis5. One can join Stephen Covey community6 and benefit greatly from it. SMQ & GTD: Stress management Questionnaire (SMQ), is a scientifically researched / validated stress self-assessment tool created by Dr. James Petersen (1976). Insights can also come from the “Getting Things done (GTD)” tool.7 ITEC: People can join the IT and ITES Employees Centre8 is an informal network to create awareness on the dangers of work-related stress and to dissuade those like Prabhakar. A voluntary non-profitable togetherness FOR, BY and OF the IT/ITES professionals, its objective is to work towards the welfare of the employees and for the overall progress of the IT sector in India. 15 Project Managers must ACT: Even as Individuals must take responsibility for managing stress, it makes sense for a Project Manager to take note that rresource allocation, however efficient goes for a toss if people disappear when the project is on-going. This also leads to tremendous pressure on those who remain in the project. Proactive People management is a part of the Project Risk Management. • Accountability: 47% of the respondents surveyed cited conflicts as the top de-motivator. Project managers can demand & get accountability in both task and behavior to reduce conflicts within their teams. They can be alert to symptoms of stress in their team members. They can identify personality- type related issues which help to become sensitive to the root -causes when the team mates are in conflict.5 Stephen Covey: First Things First – First published in 19946 https://www.stephencovey.com7 Getting Things Done: The Science behind Stress-Free Productivity-Francis Heylighen and ClémentVidal8 www.itecentre.co.in14|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India • Communication: Open communication in team meetings is very helpful in reducing stress. Project Managers can encourage members to share leave requirements and work-life challenges. Lack of work-life was cited as the biggest de-motivator by 45.8% (second only to People issues at 47%). • Training: Lack of Role preparedness in terms of training & experience is a big Stressor. Skill set mismatches cause stress to both parties. Challenges at work are often mistaken by team members as tests of personal skills. Seeking and taking help is not easy for many as seen in the case of Prabhakaran (above). Project managers may be given tips to identify personality types and coax people to work around such issues. Project managers can also volunteer for training in Emotional Intelligence, coaching and counselling skills to identify signals of stress. Project managers and team leads can also make small changes such as conducting team meetings on the lawns, discussions while in a group walk in the gardens around and so on. Innovation is the key here 16 Organizational level: SECRET of Stress management Organizations appear to be in the denial mode regarding the fact that certain processes and policies are leading to stress in their employees. Physical and mental stress result in behavioral changes and mood swings that lead to conflicts at the work-place apart from being counter-productive. Several sectors are governed by law regarding the number of working hours etc. There also exists collective bargaining power in terms of unionization. Self- regulation becomes important in other sectors. This can even be classified as a CSR initiative towards own employees. The SECRET is: • Shift length: A century ago, Harvard researchers Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson calibrated the relationship between stress and performance, finding that as stress goes up, so do efficiency and performance. However, once stress exceeds a certain level, its benefits disappear and performance declines (The Yerkes-Dodson law)9. Therefore long shifts may be counter- productive and need a re-look. • Employee Assistance Programs : Group counselling, individual counselling etc, assist employees to resolve their professional & personal issues. United Airlines reported a return of $16.35 for every dollar invested in EAP the first9 Judith Ross-How to manage stress: HBR Guide to managing stress15|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India year of the program. McDonnell-Douglas credited its EAP for a 44% reduction in missed work days and an 81% reduction in attrition rates10. • Compulsory Breaks: Laptop free-annual holidays help employees to rejuvenate themselves without feeling guilty that they are away from work. • Recruiting right: HR Managers may be sensitized to the concept of body clocks. This would help the company in picking up the right person for the right shift. Personality/ job-fit must be considered and applicants may be advised upfront about job realities. • Employee-communities: Employee-communities can innovate and undertake knowledge and task-sharing. • Talent Audits & Training: Talent audits to bridge the gaps (through training or fresh recruitment) ahead of launching new processes and projects will reduce the stress levels all around. Inadequacy of role preparedness is identified as a stressor in the survey. Training Managers may keep an “Open door policy” to support individuals to identify their weak areas and nominate themselves for training. Similarly, most people think of Stress management only when stressed out. Preventive Stress management and proactive people management techniques at the induction level (conflict, negotiation, communication, and client-interface) rather than higher levels (only) may yield benefits. 17 Stress Busters during the work day: • Yoga, meditation, gymnasiums etc which are considered currently as just “good to have” can be encouraged actively. • Provision for power naps help to refresh and rejuvenate especially in 12 hour shifts. • Open-air canteens, building calorie consciousness and so on yield intangible yet good results. Only 7.6% of the IT group and 7.8% of the non-IT group polled demonstrated calorie awareness. The open air canteen at GE -John. F. Welch Technology Centre-Bangalore , provides details of calorie content for each dish served. In the Reserve Bank of India (India’s Central Bank), Bangalore, officers are served with fresh fruits.10 CBI-Absence from Work-place Surveys 2009- 201116|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India • Where possible, employees may be given opportunities to participate in creative and community oriented activities. 18 Conclusion: Stress is seen in every work-place. Stress management is not. Our intention in taking up this research and placing the results in to public domain through PMI- India is solely to bring up the information about Stress and Stress Management that lies inert in the sub-conscious layers of the mind to the conscious mind. We believe that the effort is worth the stress! 19 Resources: • Champoux Joseph: Organizational Behavior-Integrating Individuals, Groups & Organizations CBI-Absence from Work-place Surveys 2009- 2011 • Covey Stephen: First Things First – First published in 1994 https://www. stephencovey.com Deccan Herald & The Hindu 23 April 2011- Real life reporting • Francis Heylighen and Clément Vidal : Getting Things Done: The Science behind Stress-Free Productivity • IT/ITES Employee centre: http://www.itecentre.co.in • Judith Ross-How to manage stress: HBR Guide to managing stress • Lloyd Cathy, PhD; Smith Julie,; and Weinger Katie, Diabetes Spectrum Volume 18 • Machiavelli - Nicolo The Prince -1527 quoted by Organizational Behavior specialists Taitriya Upanishad • The American Institute of Stress-http: // www.stress.org/hans.htm17|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 20 Author Profile: Sabita Prasad: A coach, counsellor and trainer on human behaviour, Sabita’s unique approach blends the best of western psychology and eastern philosophy. She holds double masters in Science and has graduated with a Gold Medal in Counselling Psychotherapy. sabitha@airtelmail.in Sudha Jayaram: Sudha comes with over 25 years’ experience in Human Resources and Public Relations Management both in the Public and Private sectors. Sudha holds a PGCM from IIM (K) and has over two decades of industry experience,extensively in People management. sudha@sabcons.com18|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Sabita Prasad & Sudha Jayaram have undertaken research in the areas of “Gender communication” (2009) and “Conflict Management” (2010) in the past for paper submission to PMI-India .Both the papers were published. They also won the “Best technical paper presentation” (Runner up) award for the former in the year 2009. Apart from undertaking research on topics of current relevance,they conduct workshops on People Management, Diversity and Inclusivity with special focus on empowering women at the work-place. They have also been associated with Nasscom, Bangalore as official training evaluators for Nasscom’s Women-in-Leadership-IT”,a mentoring programme for women executives.19|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management