Doing things you don’t want to do and how to help your team through it.

By Ryan Rubery

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.

-Michael Jordan

Working yourself up to finally do something you don’t want to is incredibly difficult. Getting someone else to do something they don’t want to can be downright impossible, aptly described by many as “pulling teeth”. Hopefully this doesn’t happen to often in your team because everyone has a shared goal and don’t mind doing things to help it along but sometimes a task comes that no one has an interest in. Most of the time these tasks aren’t the kind that can be ignored either, leaving a team member saddled with it or an elephant in the room that just doesn’t get dealt with.

As much as we would all like to be able to quietly sweep these issues under the rug and move on with the fun stuff we can’t, so what is a team leader to do? We could just hoist it on another team member and tell them it needs to be done, but that leads to all kinds of negative feelings that can grow until the team breaks apart or loses that member. Drawing straws is a more fair way to do it but that can lead to the same bitterness as just dishing out assignments. We could try and guilt trip someone into taking it on but that doesn’t feel quite right either and leads to the possibility of no one taking it while we sit in a circle awkwardly staring at each other. There has to be some system to take care of this dilemma in a positive way that leaves everyone happy, or at least not upset.

In my personal experience I’ve seen a couple of ways to do this. The first is to break up the task into smaller chunks so everyone can do a small piece of it. This makes it so that no one feels overwhelmed or singled out trying to do the whole thing. Another way along the same vein is to have the entire team work on the task together. This might not be the most efficient way but it has the same effect as dividing the task up. The final way I’ve seen this solved is that sometimes the leader just bites the bullet and does it themselves. Not really the best option but sometimes the task just needs to get done and someone is going to have to do it.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, a contributor to Psychology Today and the Harvard business review, wrote an article on the reasons we procrastinate and gives some good advice on how to avoid these pitfalls(Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D, How to Make Yourself Do It When You Just Don’t Want To) . For the more zen of you out there, Leo Babauta from zen habits compiled a list of different ways to try and get yourself over the procrastination hump(Leo Babauta, 10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do).

Hopefully some of this advice helps you get down to work and do those things that we just don’t want too!

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