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How Do We Manage Workplace Stress? Manisha Powar Reframes Our Perspective

Job stress is universal. Regardless of title or experience, all of us have struggled with the pressures of maintaining high performance or mitigating a setback. If left untreated, it can lead to issues beyond the office, including physical, mental, and emotional disorders—and sometimes even injury.

So, how do we ensure that we manage our work anxieties and fulfill our goals without compromising our wellbeing? 

Manisha Powar, Director of Product Management at Qualtrics, weighs in. As a seasoned leader, she navigates stress with confidence and resilience, believing in the power of perspective and its ability to reframe our relationship with our careers. 

Here are some of her tips. 

1. “How do you respond to workplace stress as you lead your team?”

“I currently live with the philosophy that a lot of stress is self-induced. [Our team] is always under high pressure to come up with the right ideas, but ultimately, if you think about the purpose of what you’re fulfilling, then change management doesn’t seem as bad. You know what you’re working toward, and all the interim changes are just steps to get there. 

When you make it about the purpose behind the stress, then the stress becomes more of change management rather than a pressure point. When adversity happens, you can look at it as a really bad thing—or an opportunity to do something different. Switch that perspective, and the world around you tends to change and become more positive.

2. “How do you continue to maintain balance for yourself?”

“It’s very easy to harp on things that don’t really matter in the bigger picture. So once you have built for yourself and for your team what’s important, then the balance is about not everything has to be A-plus. 

You have to triage with your team and set expectations with them. Say, this project can be A-plus. This one can be A-minus. It’s okay—it just needs to get done. Align with your team where you want to go. Create a semblance of balance and try not to strive for perfection all the time.”

3. “How do your personal experiences help you define career resilience?” 

“Part of resilience is having the right people around you because you don’t build your career alone, especially as a product manager. I have a network of mentors, friends, and colleagues, and I tried to help my team build it for themselves as well. Resilience comes from having that support structure with people you trust. My growth has always come from leaders taking bets on me when I didn’t yet believe in myself. So, find people you really look up to.

Growing up in India, a very patriarchal culture, getting validation from my father, brother, or husband used to be important and how I considered myself successful. I had to learn to switch that to receiving validation for myself, taking a bet on myself, celebrating when that bet pays off, or learning when it doesn’t…it has been a cycle for me.”

Looking for your network of supporters?

At CCWomen, a community platform for women and allies, we strive to be your go-to source for workplace stress support, industry insights, collective inspiration, and more. 

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