There are a lot of individual motivations on a team, and they don’t always align with what that team has been tasked to do. Because of these variants, you may find yourself caring when others don’t about the project tasks at hand. A big part of managing projects is not convincing people to get on board, but rather finding ways to make the team’s priorities serve their personal interests. “Personal” doesn’t necessarily mean individually self-serving (although it often does). It can also mean serving the needs of a boss, a corporate function, or even a mentor.
With all of these possible motivations, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll eventually land on a project that makes you ask the question, “Am I the only one who cares about the success of this project?”
Caring when others don’t is a frustrating and discouraging experience. Here are a few strategies to try when you are faced with this dilemma:
Find a Buddy
If you feel this way, chances are that there’s someone else that most likely does too. Find that someone and connect with them. Not to complain or commiserate, but rather to support each other in a shared struggle.
Empathize With Your Teammates
People have a lot going on in their lives outside of the workplace. Situations like saving for retirement or school tuition, caring for elderly parents, and providing a family can make it easy to prioritize your personal interests over the team’s needs. And I think we can all understand why. It can be easier said than done to not let your personal life influence your work, and I try to assume that when people push their own individual agendas it’s usually for one of these reasons. Not for their benefit, but for my own.
Keep in mind that you may be wrong. We’re not perfect, and sometimes we don’t always know what’s best for the business despite our good intentions. Like our colleagues, we also approach every situation with some amount of bias. Make sure you are challenging yourself to ensure that your perspective is an informed one that includes the business needs as well.
Stand Your Ground
Be firm in your commitment to the team’s goals, and set clear non-negotiables with individuals as you try to find the win-win for them and the team. Letting people know where you’re not flexible allows you to highlight where compromise is an option.
Remember that it’s not that your other team members don’t care at all, it could just be that they care about other things more.
Why it Matters
I didn’t mention yoga, meditation, vacations, staycations, and the like. While these are great ways to manage the stress you have, approaching the work differently can stave off stress before it even starts. After all, the stress that’s easiest to manage is the kind that you don’t experience in the first place.
Caring when others don’t can make you feel like an outsider on your team and in your organization. I hope some of these things help you see that you’re not alone. You can find common ground with those around you.
Do you ever feel like you’re the only one who cares? How do you try to head off this stress before it starts?