A reader writes: "I'm an extremely motivated worker and passionate about what I do. However, I'm getting burned out because I'm the only person putting..."

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Q: I’m an extremely motivated worker and passionate about what I do. However, I’m getting burned out because I’m the only person putting forth and implementing good ideas. How do I get other people more motivated?

A: Psychologists have a word to describe people who tend to suck up all the responsibility in a room: overfunctioning.

They also have a word to describe people who take too little responsibility: underfunctioning. People in either pattern tend to get into trouble.

If it’s any consolation, many of my brightest, most talented and most successful clients have a bad habit of overfunctioning. Ironically, they all hit a point in their careers where being too responsible was hurting them professionally.

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The good news is, you’re recognizing that there’s a connection between you doing too much and many of your co-workers doing too little.

When you’re running around with your tail on fire fixing major problems, your co-workers don’t have much room to do anything except sip their coffee and watch you go.

Right now, the instant you see a problem, you don your superhero cape and bound into action. Try pausing when you first identify a problem. Sit on your anxiety and give your co-workers a chance to also recognize the problem.

If others don’t notice what’s wrong, try asking questions or making observations. Then sit back and wait again. If your colleagues still don’t see a need to act, ask questions about how they plan to deal with the consequences of not fixing the problem. Wait some more.

If no one else takes action after all of this prodding, your co-workers are either heavily tranquilized or zombies. Even the most passive people start moving when they can see that dire consequences will befall them if they do nothing.

Overfunctioners do too much not just because they’re competent but because they can’t stand feeling anxious, and problems make them anxious. Now, no one in your office has to worry because you’re doing all the worrying for them.

Do less, sit back more, and be assured that co-workers will start taking action when they realize you’ve retired as office superhero.

The last word(s)

Q: Do your readers and clients find there’s anything more miserable than working for the office jerk?

A: Yes, being the office jerk.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com.

Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube.