What happens when you no longer care?
Say you are working on a substantial website job with a difficult client. The work has been going on for months, and the website is now overdue for release. Your client is making substantial last minute changes, and your team is packed with other work.
You are weary of both the project and the client, and you know you are not pushing the work through as hard as you might ordinarily do.
You get a call from your client who says they feel they are not a priority anymore, and that you don’t care. Are they right?
One trait that separates a great design studio person from merely a good one is a strong desire to care.
You will care about your clients and their needs; care about your team; care about business outcomes for your studio; and care about the work.
How much you care will show in your actions and your attitude. Your colleagues will see it, and your clients will sense it. They will notice when you do care, and they will most definitely notice when you don’t care.
In an industry crammed with long hours, pressures, demanding clients, and fighting fires, the seemingly endless grind can often wear you down. You may feel like it is easier to care less because the less you care the less you will be disappointed. No-one can be positive all the time, but beware of the day you stop caring — it is a sign that something needs to be adjusted, and quickly.
For a minor adjustment
- Evaluate yourself. Take an introspective and honest look at your attitude and work performance (better you do it than your boss asking you to!).
- Get to the root of the problem. If you are struggling to care, it’s time to ask yourself why.
- Choose to focus on the positive aspects of your job, rather than dwell on the negatives.
- Practise gratitude. Remind yourself of everything about your job for which you are grateful.
- Mentally determine that each day will be a good day.
- Mentor someone. It will help you to be outward-focused instead of inward-focused.
- Find a mentor. Everyone needs input as well as output. A mentor may be able to give you fresh insight and inspiration.
- Ask your colleagues how they are doing, and if you can be of any help.
- Check your appearance. When you look good, you feel good.
- Shake up your routine. Routines are positive and necessary to get work done. However, the monotony of routine can also wear us down. Don’t be afraid to mix your routine up a bit — even small changes can be refreshing.
- Get involved. It’s harder not to care when you are actively contributing to a team.
- Don’t get stuck in a rut. Look for ways to bring ‘newness’ to your work by adding new challenges, learning new skills, and seeking out innovation.
- Get inspired. Look inside and outside of the industry for ideas, especially from people that you admire.
- Remember what you got into the industry for and try to recapture your enthusiasm, meaning and purpose.
For a moderate adjustment
- Talk with your manager about the way you are feeling.
- Ask to be assigned to different clients for a fresh perspective.
- Consider moving studios to defibrillate your career.
For a major adjustment
- Seriously consider whether you need to leave the industry. A designs studio can be an unforgiving place for an account manager who no longer cares.
Try to do at least one thing – every day – to show your colleagues and clients that you care about your job, and you care about them. Being intentional about caring is a good practice to adopt, and will help to see you through the down times when they inevitably come along.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Sarah Ritchie has been in the design and agency world for over 25 years. Originally a graphic designer, Sarah has also worked as a design teacher, agency account manager, and now enjoys a wonderful life in recruitment for agencies. Sarah is also the Founder of AM-Insider — a website full of tips, tricks and resources to build account management superstars!