Published: 06/01/2005, Volume II5, No. 5937 Page 27

Q. The project I have been working on has been sidelined and my team moved to work on another one. The new project tackles the same issue but the methodology feels totally alien. We risk merely ticking a box to achieve a target.

Someone new has been brought in to lead it who doesn't believe in how we were working before. I am finding it hard to adjust and am very de-motivated.

A. This is tough. It is not surprising that you feel de-motivated. It is difficult to see something you have cared about and taken forward in a way that you cannot support. You are not alone. Many people share your sense of disillusionment as meaning in their work is replaced by ticking boxes.

The best approach is to remember the words of an old prayer: 'God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.' What can you change in your unenviable situation? Is there any way that you can recapture some of your previous methodology and seek to restore the focus on empowering staff?

This may be impossible given the new leadership and beliefs.

However, one helpful characteristic of the tick boxers is that, provided the box is ticked, they rapidly lose interest. Can you exploit this to achieve some of the things that motivate you?

If there is no way you can change what has happened then you need to find the serenity to accept it and go on doing the best you can. Do not give the tick boxer the excuse to get at you because your work suffers as a result of de-motivation. Show them you care about real things.

At the same time, watch for new opportunities. Another helpful characteristic of tick boxers is that they often move on, seeking new heights from which to dazzle superiors. If they do not move, there are opportunities for good people and you may have to move yourself, but first see what you can change.

Ken Jarrold is chief executive of County Durham and Tees Valley strategic health authority. If you have a query for Ken, e-mail in confidence to nick. edwards@emap. com. Your question could win you a copy of HSJ's Leadership at Every Level toolkit (normal price£95).