Huh, my model of a good manager is that like 25% of your job is to manage and handle the ugh fields of the people you manage. Figuring out what kind of tasks different people are aversive to, and generally reallocating workloads when someone seems to not want to do a certain task feels to me like it’s core to a managers toolkit.
Are you a manager or are you just speculating? I imagine different fields are different, but it has been my experience that people I manage are able to get things done without a lot of handholding, and while they probably have some “ugh fields” as I do too, they don’t let that stop them from getting the job done. Reassigning things constantly would have a big cost to the organization.
Would probably reassign something due to psychological aversion as a one-time thing, if a trusted senior person asked me to, but not for a new person. My advice to employees would be to be very hesitant about coming to management with a complaint that you can’t/don’t want to do a core part of your job.
I am doing a substantial amount of management work, though like, am myself pretty young so we are only talking about a total of 2-3 years of experience. I have mostly managed junior people over the course of my management career, though also a few people with 10+ years of industry experience.
Maybe you are talking about management in some context where the tasks are already really well-defined? Or maybe a domain where peak performance doesn’t really matter and people are really replaceable? Like, the experience of ugh fields is absolutely universal in every single person I have ever worked with, including people who have founded companies with hundreds of employees and that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or people with 20+ years of industry experience and a really strong get-shit-done attitude.
Maybe they don’t talk to you about their ugh fields? If they are doing a good job I am confident they will talk to someone else about it, or perform substantially worse if they don’t have anyone to talk to about them.
Of course, people don’t call them ugh-fields, and if you only work with people who have relatively narrowly defined responsibilities, then they probably self-selected out of having ugh-fields about the tasks they have been performing, but like, in the domains I’ve worked in where generalist skillsets are frequent and you constantly have novel challenges, you will inevitably run into someone being averse to a task that has to be done (like, having to give a public talk even though they usually do focused technical work, or having to write a long blogpost even though they usually don’t write, or needing to navigate some conflict with a coworker even though they are usually super conflict averse).
My experience would be that people generally have Ugh fields around tasks which no-one on the team likes (e.g. report writing). I can’t reassign such tasks without being unfair to the people who are dealing well with such jobs.
I would agree that mentioning to a manager that you’re finding something aversive is basically fine as long as you’re more looking for support than reassignment (although this might be different in different fields) and that a manager should encourage that.
As an example one employee found that people constantly interrupted him and this made getting into the flow of report writing super hard so we blocked off a day a week to allow him to catch up without interruptions.
I guess to some extent it’s knowing what’s possible in your context and knowing how flexible your manager is able/willing to be.
>I would agree that mentioning to a manager that you’re finding something aversive is basically fine as long as you’re more looking for support than reassignment.
I agree with this. Managers can do some productivity/performance coaching and find ways to help employees, although as an employee I wouldn’t want to be the one who required the MOST help, unless I was brand new. And “help me find a way to work around this problem” is going to come off a lot better than “please reassign this because I don’t wanna.”
Hmm, I guess maybe I am more lucky. It has happened reasonably frequently to me that someone gets an ugh-field around a task that some other person doesn’t find stressful (examples: organizing spreadsheets, calling businesses, having meetings, writing long explanatory blogposts).
But I do agree that reassignment is definitely much less frequent than just talking through whatever is aversive and usually one can find some other solution to the problem (in my experience pair-programming or pair-writing is often pretty successful here).
Maybe I need to be more heterogenous in my hiring!
I hadn’t heard of pair-writing but it sounds like it could work well in my context.
While I can see that there are plenty of people who don’t like report writing and would rather prefer to do other things, it’s not my model that most people have ugh-fields around them (that it’s very painful to think about doing the task).
Is your model of people different or are you overgeneralizing the term?
My intended point was that if one person has an ugh-field around something then it is often a generally unenjoyable task. Although other people don’t have ugh-fields around the task, it still seems unfair (and would likely lead to bad team dynamics) to reassign it to someone else who merely dislikes the task.
EDIT: wrote this before reading someone else’s comment, we don’t disagree as much as I thought!
>Maybe they don’t talk to you about their ugh fields? If they are doing a good job I am confident they will talk to someone else about it, or perform substantially worse if they don’t have anyone to talk to about them.
I think you are right about this, and no, it’s not a job with narrowly defined responsibilities. I don’t disagree that very successful people can have “ugh fields,” but in my mind talking about psychological problems is something you would do with a friend, family member, mentor, or therapist, not with a boss. Like other people have said, if the discussion is framed as “help me find a way to work around this,” it might be okay to bring up. But I wouldn’t go to my boss and ask to get out of a task because I procrastinated so long I developed a psychological aversion to it! And it puts the boss in a pretty bad position too, because if the thing has to get done they then have to get someone else to do it. It’s probably going to take the new person longer to do it than it would have for Person 1 to just finish it, and then the boss has to explain to the client why it’s late. And the next time there’s an important assignment, that boss is going to wonder whether they can trust you with it or whether you’ll just get halfway through and then abandon it.
Having to find a way to get yourself to do things that feel aversive to you seems to me to be a vital life skill. Some things that have helped me with “ugh fields” are the ‘eat the frog’ technique, i.e. do the aversive thing before anything else, doing the task with another person to keep me honest, and using artificial motivation-boosting tools like energizing music or lots of caffeine.
My advice to employees would be to be very hesitant about coming to management with a complaint that you can’t/don’t want to do a core part of your job.
Ugh fields usually come up when people are faced with new challenges that they are not used to dealing with. Plenty of times that’s not a core part of the job.
I guess I’ve had bad luck on this, because ugh fields tend to come up for me around talking to strangers on the phone, and I have to do that most days with my job! And yet, not to brag, but I do it, and I’m glad I can make myself do it.
This should be much more common if you have to manage volunteers than paid workers, probably.