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Stress trying to motivate people

Hello everyone,

I have a question that is probably recognizable for a lot of people. Some of the courses I am following require project work in a group. In teamwork there are always people who take on the role of a leader, and people who do more work than others. If I am serious about achieving a good result, I often take on the role of a leader. I noticed I get frustrated with people who don't contribute as much as they should be (in my opinion). At first I try to motivate people to do what they should be doing, but I notice doing this over and over takes a large toll on me. Sometimes I think it is better to simply accept I cannot change people, and make the best of it, even if the end result suffers. But I find this really hard to do. On one hand I want to achieve the best results possible, and I give it my best shot, but I get frustrated and hopeless when the progress doesn't live up to my expectations or people don't do their part.

I realize this is probably a fundamental problem in project management, and there should be a lot of resources/books on this, but I could not find any. My father is a project manager, and he had major stress problems and burn-outs in the past. I know for a fact one of the reasons for his stress are similar to what I described above: he tried to achieve a great result but ended up doing way more than his share. I would hate to end up in that place as well.

Hopefully you understand what I mean, I tried to put it to words the best I could. I'd love to hear how some of you (I'm no doubt the only one) prevent this from taking a toll on yourself, and I'm really interested in any books that might help me to better understand/constrain this part of myself.

Kind regards,
Tjeerd
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replied February 24th, 2010
Anyone? Sad
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replied February 24th, 2010
Sorry, no real answers, just more questions. I'm running into this, but less on the project management side and more on the parenting side. Kids. Homework. 'Nuff said. Sometimes things go like clockwork, and it seems like they're really getting it. Other times it's like pulling teeth. Unfortunately I don't really have the option of saying you can't change people since that's the job I signed up for. Maybe not changing, but at least guiding. Throwing up my hands and walking away is one of those things I simply can't do.

But one of the things this is teaching me is that I do need to pick my battles. The situation you describe sounds familiar to a situation I ran into at work a few years ago. I'm not on the project management end of things (thank goodness!) but we all pitch in on projects. In the past we have had people who simply would not pull their own weight. It sounds callous, but the conclusion we all came to was to cut them loose, take on the extra load, get the job done, and make absolutely certain that the higher-ups knew what happened and who actually did the work. The people who were doing the project management made the situation abundantly clear to the individuals in question, and kept trying to motivate them right up to the bitter end, to no avail. So when the work finished, the kudos were handed out, and certain people were asked to leave because they couldn't perform their job duties, there wasn't a lot of sympathy to go 'round.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make 'em drink, or so the saying goes. It sounds trite, but it really is true. You can bust your butt to motivate people, but it really is up to them to step up and become motivated. If you give yourself a heart attack in the process, they still don't win, and you certainly lose. Gotta pick your battles.

Now if someone could just tell me how to roll this into kids and homework, I'd love to hear it. I'd really like to see them come out of school with a good work ethic, good organizational skills, and the unswerving knowledge that they can do anything they set their minds to. I'd take it as a huge bonus if they get there without hating my guts.

TnS
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replied February 24th, 2010
Yeah that sounds pretty familiar. Hopefully a wise person with answers will look at this page.

About the parenting I can only speak from the child perspective. I gave my parents a lot of trouble in the age 10-17, with puberty and depression making me pretty hard to handle at times. Now at age 23 I'm attending university and I'm quite happy. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents, and every day I am more thankful for the way they set boundaries for me and always sticked to them, even if I was acting impossible. I think children require a different approach than adults, one of being clear, consistent and never giving up enforcing the boundaries you think are best for them.

I believe that it's best to accept there are a few years in a child's life where parenting can be quite a challenge, and stick with it, your children will thank you later.

Tjeerd
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