updates: I get angry when I’m praised for doing work I don’t like, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. I get angry when I’m praised for doing work I don’t like

I would love to say I explored this in therapy, as a lot of readers suggested, but unfortunately money is a huge issue and therapy is not financially viable on my income (hoping this changes in the future).

All that to say, the issue really hasn’t come up an awful lot since I wrote in! I did get promoted into a managerial role myself. So I’ve gained a lot more self-determination in my work and find I prefer that over praise.

Since being promoted I’ve also learned that high quantity praise is very much a company cultural thing. We drill into our managers to make sure your employees for that shift leave feeling appreciated for their work. Definitely not a bad thing! But I have decided to temper that with some nuance, because obviously something that was being done with good intentions had rubbed me the wrong way, and there is always the potential that I repeat that with my employees.

So, I am following the company culture and making sure to express appreciation to employees. But I’m also taking care to read the room. If I get the sense that my employee might be resenting a particular task and already irritated for having to do it, I’ll leave them alone until I find them in a better mood. Or, I’ll pick something else they did to praise them for.

Mostly I’ll try and avoid giving my employees tasks I know they hate. If I can’t avoid doing that, or if a task is just universally hated, I’ll acknowledge that it’s not my employees favourite thing and I’ll explain the rationale as to why I’m asking them to do it this time.

I’m also utilizing the strategy of finding ways to appreciate my employees that aren’t necessarily work related. For example, I have an employee who other managers have found a bit abrasive and difficult to manage. I’ve been trying to learn his native language. Every day we converse a little bit in his language, as much as I can. Some people might find this over-involved and intrusive, but this particular employee loves it and gets very excited about teaching me new words. I’ve never had any management issues with him.

I think a lot of my anger around praise comes from not feeling seen, as backward as that sounds. So I’m trying to take the approach of making my employees feel seen, in a way that’s personalised for them.

I’m not perfect and I have a long way to go. When I can afford therapy this is absolutely one of the million things I want to explore.

But so far, I’ve gotten by using this as a lesson on leadership. And appreciating that my new role gives me a level of autonomy that I’m much happier with.

Thanks again to everyone who read and responded with advice or solidarity.

2. Not accepting a job that drug tests, and being honest about why (#2 at the link)

I wrote on my partner, T’s, behalf, and she really appreciated the feedback. She ended up declining the job despite it being a fairly good offer at a large firm, and she even responded to the recruiter kindly saying that she considered mandatory drug-testing to be a DEI issue (I, a DEI director, helped her write the email). The recruiter seemed respectful and grateful for the feedback, though of course we recognize that it’s company policy and not his fault.

She ended up receiving another good offer from another firm, which she took to her current employer. Current employer offered her an extra $10k to stay, which she accepted. They were later acquired by another large prestigious firm, so now she has her big name job with all of the stability and relationships she had been cultivating for the last few years. We recently got engaged, so it’s nice to have the stability as we have a big gay wedding to plan.

3. I don’t want to put work charges on my personal credit card (#3 at the link)

I never had a talk with my boss, but I think she got the hint. I needed to buy some summer reading prizes and she made sure I got the money before I ordered the items. It’s still not ideal, but it worked.

After realizing I am being paid way less than I am worth, I used your tips and asked for a raise. My boss was very non-committal saying maybe later in the year.

Ultimately, I found another job back in my hometown which paid MUCH more money and has way less responsibility and stress. The negotiations made me realize how nice it was to have professional and open communication and I have been there for a few months and love it!

Thanks so much for your advice!

4. Should I tell my tantrum-throwing coworker that she’s sabotaging herself?

At the last minute our other top internal candidate (the one who shadowed in office mentioned in my letter) got an offer for a different internal position and declined our position. We had one other external candidate whose resume was frankly just full of red flags (lots of job hopping, barely any relevant work experience, not even sure what made HR pull that resume) just never get back to us about scheduling an interview so Jane got the job. And she’s done really well! Jane and I have gotten a lot closer since that original letter and I understand now that Jane has A LOT of anxiety and imposter syndrome that explained some of her reactions during that time. Since we’ve grown closer, I’ve found it easier to talk her down from the ledge so to speak when she starts getting into her own head. Sadly though, it looks like most likely very soon Jane will be moving to a different department (but still internal!) but I think we’ve both had a positive impact on each other and will keep in touch even if we’re not working in the same building anymore.

{ 65 comments… read them below }

  1. HR Ninja*

    LW #1: In the past I was able to get counseling from the extension center of one of my local colleges. It worked on a sliding scale, so when I was jobless I was paying nothing, and the most I ever paid was $20/session. I met with psychology/counseling students working on getting their advanced degrees to become psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. I don’t live in a super-large area; Fargo, ND is the closest “big” city, so maybe there are possibilities where you live.

    Just wanted to throw this out there.

    1. dot*

      Not sure what kind of company OP1 works for, but if they have an EAP that could be a good option as well. I just got 8 paid sessions through my EAP to deal with an interpersonal, non-work related issue.

      1. HR Ninja*

        I thought about that, too. EAP is great – I also used mine to go to a therapist at an old toxic job.

  2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    OP 1. Well done you. I love this update. I don’t think you are overstepping or over-involved. I think you understand that not all people have the same perspective/needs/wants and you understand that “this is how my company works.” And you put the two together.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Yeah, this was a great update! Congratulations on the promotion, OP1. You sound like a great boss. My only caution would be don’t assume everyone else is like you and therefore would/wouldn’t want what you want.

      If I were doing the hated task and you knew it and you praised me for some other thing instead, I would feel irritated with you for failing to acknowledge I did the hated thing. Like, “So I spent 3 hours clearing and dusting shelves and putting everything back and you thank me for sending that follow up email?! What the hell.”

      1. Longtime reader, firsttime commenter*

        Agreed – What I read in OP1’s comments is an awareness that different people like to be acknowledged and recognized in different ways. Ideally, that would translate toward recognizing which thing you valued more (the 3 hours of cleaning) and showing appreciation for that task! Sounds like OP is starting to connect the dots on that as a leadership strategy, which is wonderful.

  3. PotsPansTeapots*

    LW1’s problem really resonated with me- I too get oddly rankled by praise that I find condescending or generic. (In my case, it’s definitely related to early family dynamics.) I’m so glad there’s a happy ending.

    1. Not Australian*

      Yup, I can relate too – plus the whole “I don’t want to be praised for just doing my job” thing as well. Like, it’s *literally* what I’m there for. Sometimes it’s a whole lot more comfortable just to be ignored.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I mean, it is good to know some people feel this way, but overall, I think people respond better to positive feedback for doing their jobs. It is more motivating to work for praise (and hopefully appropriate compensation) than to work to avoid criticism. And overall, I think it is a poor management tactic to think you shouldn’t praise people just for doing their jobs. It sounds like OP is balancing these concerns out and making sure her praise is not generic. But overall, I think the company culture of having managers show appreciation to the employees is the right idea and is the best approach for most people. I like that OP1 is not letting her personal issue prevent her from doing it but is instead helping her realize ways to accomplish this goal while respecting that individual employees feel appreciation in different ways and that generic praise is not as motivating.

    2. ferrina*

      I really appreciated LW’s update. It really added nuance to the original letter. It’s great the LW landed in a better place and has been able to tailor their leadership based on their experience. I still think the original issue is worth looking in to – it sounds like something that’s likely to crop up again. I’m seconding the hypothesis of it being some sort of trigger from childhood (likely family dynamics). That’s pretty common. It could be around insincere praise or someone that used praise as a way to pigeon-hold OP into tasks they didn’t like (the classic assign-someone-something-crappy-but-try-to-flatter-them-into-thinking-its-not-crappy). Good luck to OP!

    3. Osprey*

      I’m a little perplexed by the presumption that this kind of feeling would be likely to stem from an early family dynamic, or represent the kind of thing that should be worked out in therapy.

      I don’t want to take anything away from anyone who does feel that way, or who has benefitted from therapy that helps them feel happier at work. That’s really awesome! But I also think the kinds of hierarchies we have to put up with at work, while perhaps inevitable, are kind of unnatural, and I don’t think it’s so strange that there would be some weird feelings in contexts like OP describes– I can certainly relate! It’s a little strange for an adult to praise another adult from what is essentially a position of coercive authority. Like, I’m not doing this for your appreciation or approval or validation, I’m doing it because I’m getting paid to. If you are so appreciative, you can show it by paying me more! Otherwise, just respect me enough to let me do my work, please.

      1. Cyrano*

        The letter writer themselves brings up examples from their childhood in the original letter, so this isn’t being pulled from nowhere.

        And while jobs are weird, artificial constructs that can throw up uncomfortable interactions…having a problem being praised for a task you don’t like does seem noteworthy. Even dream jobs can come with tasks you might not like. But the work can be good even if you don’t enjoy doing it, and necessary to the role even if not fulfilling in the way you’d choose. “You dealt with that tricky customer really well/Good job on cleaning the toilets, they look great/thanks for filing the tax documents, I know it brings you out in a cold sweat” would grease the wheels for many, not outrage them”.

  4. Just me*

    Genuine appreciation rather than performative praise makes a big difference! I think LW#1 was feeling the performative praise and being subconsciously put off by that. So glad as a manager she is able to connect with her people in a much more meaningful way.

    1. blue rose*

      Hmm, I didn’t see it as performative vs. genuine praise. Some tasks are just unpleasant, no matter how necessary, and it seems like the company’s ethos doesn’t want employees to feel like the unpleasant-but-necessary aspects of their work are done in vain, so there’s a push from the management side to acknowledge the employees’ efforts. This is a perspective that the LW was completely ignorant of in the first letter, but now that they themselves have new work experience, they can appreciate the value of this approach.

      It’s just, in the LW’s specific individual case, they personally would have preferred to get the ugly stuff over with and spend absolutely no further energy on it, not thinking about it and not speaking about it, not even for a “yay, it’s over with!” And from the way the LW describes the change in their view, I’d have to agree with them that their previous job position was at least in part an insurmountable mismatch on a very basic level. Not anything against the LW or the job or the company, the LW and the job just weren’t meant to be. That changed, and apparently improved things nicely all around.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Yeah, I was wondering if the LW was subconsciously picking up on the fact that it had been drummed into the manager to praise them and that perhaps, the manager was almost saying it automatically, regardless of whether they meant it or not. Meaning well, but it may have come across as not being completely genuinely or really thought through.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Thank you, performative praise is the phrase I’ve been looking for! I call it empty praise but performative praise is sooooo much better! My grandboss does it to me alllllllll the time and I was (am) very much looking forward to her upcoming retirement and the end of the performative praise and then we hired someone else in a different role who also does the performative praise thing and I absolutely can’t stand it.

  5. Lana Kane*

    From OP1: “I think a lot of my anger around praise comes from not feeling seen, as backward as that sounds.”

    It may sound backward but it isn’t! Generic praise doled out by rote because you’re supposed to praise employees is definitely not being seen, precisely because it’s generic and unthoughtful. In similar situations I’ve added “thank you for doing that” along with the praise, because I did want the person to know they did a good job but also acknowledge that it was a sucky task. I won’t say that people would sound grateful for the praise or the thanks, but they did seem to understand the intent.

    Another thing about praising good work on a sucky task is that on the receiving end, I’ve felt that if I am too gracious to accept the praise then I’m going to get stuck with that task. So I understood when people’s response would give “Thanks but let me still be clear I don’t like doing that” vibes!

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      The “not feeling seen” comment resonated with me, too – I will bristle at praise for the unpleasant and/or less complex tasks I got stuck doing while the higher-impact or complex project I work on go unnoticed. I did once successfully change the conversation by saying, “thanks! While you’re here, let me tell you about the outcome of this bigger project,” but that only works so many times.

    2. stratospherica*

      Yeah, I’ve had to do some tasks that I hate as a matter of principle, and I’ve never been shy about how little I like it (I have an expressive face, and I’ll be the first to tell you that if I’m faced with a task I don’t like, I’ll grumble about it and then do it anyway because it needs to be done), and it genuinely does help when my manager says “I appreciate that you’ve lent your efforts to XYZ project and worked on it so efficiently, especially since it’s something I know you really don’t want to be doing.”

      If I were just heaped with praise with no recognition of how crap I find the task, I’d probably feel some type of way too.

    3. ferrina*

      Yes! Not being seen is a legit reason to feel frustrated, and it’s not always an obvious thing you can point to. Not being seen has real impacts- your boss won’t advocate for opportunities you would want because they don’t know/care what you want, they don’t praise your genuine skills because they don’t know what they are, etc. And that’s on top of the general frustration of someone pretending to be your buddy when they don’t really care.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I get that comment, too. The praise didn’t acknowledge that the OP hated the task, so it was incongruent with their mental state. I get how that translates to feeling like the manager has no idea about the OP’s experience at work.

      It may also connect with a broader environment of trying to put lipstick on pigs. Is there a broader company culture of refusing to acknowledge sub-optimal things? To dismiss people’s legitimate issues / complaints?

  6. Aquamarine*

    I found LW#1’s language lessons very sweet! You should like a good manager – really making an effort to see your staff as individuals.

  7. Sheila*

    LW#2 – good for you and T. for crafting a response! I live in a weed-friendly area with several high-profile construction projects run by big energy conglomerates. They make a fuss about the importance of hiring local labour, but so many qualified & talented people (who need the work) don’t even apply because the drug testing includes cannabis, which shows up on tests long after the effects are gone. Hopefully the more people speak up the tides will change.

    1. Designed on win 3.1*

      With my company if they had a Strict zero tolerance policy with random testing there wouldn’t be an IT team, a customer service team or anyone else left. It’s not that anyone smokes or drinks on the job but the month long detectably would make it difficult. Also this being a recreational state means that people would eventually leave. With all the legacy systems we have that would be a recipe for disaster.

    2. Random Dice*

      I so appreciated that Alison’s advice was “hell yes!” on speaking up about this. Companies run by old white men sometimes make bad decisions, and they need to know this is one.

  8. Not Jane*

    LW1: I hadn’t read the first letter when reading this update but I totally get this. This is my workplace culture, to praise people, usually publicly, for just doing the job they’ve been doing.
    Honestly it’s so patronizing. Here’s an example of how it makes me feel. My child was doing a sport with one instructor who left and he had to be assessed by a new instructor. The new instructor put him at a lower level to what he should be. He was upset but I said we just have to play it their way for now. After two weeks he was reassed and put in the higher level. The instructor said “well done! Congratulations on moving up to the new level!”. You see how patronizing it is? He should have been at that level anyway. That’s how it feels at work with this constant praise for just doing our jobs.

  9. generaljax02*

    LW #2 thank you for the awesome update! I also have turned down a position for the exact reasons your partner did for medical and recreational reasons (I live in Oregon where cannabis is also legal, in my small town alone we have 5 dispensaries!) and ended up with an amazing job offer only a week later and now 2 years later am still very happy.
    And congrats on the engagement!

  10. higheredadmin*

    LW#1 – I have discovered, as you have, that being honest with staff you are managing about the “sucky” jobs is very well received. I often put it in the context that every job will have task(s) that are your least favorite, and that this is what we are paid for. I’ve also found that this can be kind of a shock for employees new to the workplace – even your dream job has some bad aspects, or things that just make you nuts to do. (Although sometimes there just is a c**p annual task that everyone hates, and I usually start those off with – OK team, here’s the c**p annual task, as we get started does anyone have any ideas as to how to make it more manageable and less c**p this year.)

    1. generaljax02*

      Love this comment! I love my job (and I’m def not new to the workforce) but try and embrace
      the parts of my job that I don’t like and I find I’m learning more when I do them.
      Just today I had an upset client who said that my boss should have called them personally and not put you (meaning me) in this position. But that’s what I get paid for so another learning experience :)

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yes, please! I am an adult and will not lose my sh*t if I have to do something that isn’t my favourite. What I don’t like is people essentially telling me that my feelings about a task are “wrong.”

  11. Clare*

    LW#1 have you seen Billy the ‘talking’ cat on YouTube? She talks with buttons. When she first got her buttons she pushed MAD a lot. Now she has more buttons and more nuance with which to express herself MAD is less of a thing. It seems like you’ve been given some more buttons at work and you’re the kind of boss who gives more buttons to your team too. Glad to hear you’re happier in your new role. Hopefully the upward trend continues!

  12. DW*

    LW1, this concerns me: “When I can afford therapy this is absolutely one of the million things I want to explore.” Therapy can’t be one of several items on your to-do list — it has to be at the *top* of that list, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully.

    Until you address the root cause, you’re going to keep acting out in some way that harms you. Yes, you can put a lid on one maladaptive behavior, but then another will spring up, because the geyser is still insider of you. (Ex.: The alcoholic who stops drinking and star gambling.) And feeling irritated by praise for a task you dislike doing is … very maladaptive.

    Please know that I’m not criticizing or belittling you — I’m speaking up bc your letters make me think back to some of *my* maladaptive behaviors when I was just starting therapy. If you don’t get on top of this *now*, it’s going to limit and truncate your life far more than you know.

    Please call your local city / county / state mental-health department and ask for the names of people who accept clients on a sliding scale. Go to the Psychology Today website and look for sliding-scare practitioners. Ask your physician for a referral to a sliding-scale practitioner. But DO NOT put this off. Best wishes.

    1. Redaktorin*

      Pretty sure they meant explore a million personal things in therapy, not explore a million things to do with their money, maybe including some therapy.

    2. AnnanyMouse*

      I think your response is quite extreme. Feeling irritated by praise in the way LW describes and has explored the reasons behind is not ‘very maladaptive’ and is no where near comparable to alcoholism or a gambling addiction, in my book. I don’t think it’s fair to LW to say that ‘you’re going to keep acting out in some way that harms you’. I mean, has this harmed them all that much? Sounds like they’re doing pretty well and being a very thoughtful and effective manager!

    3. Anon. Scientist*

      Yes, we are allowed to be cranky and not like patronizing praise without it being some horrible failing that only a professional can help with. I am a cynical crank who just does not care about praise because I am almost entirely self motivated and I promise that I am a completely functional person in a management position with 20+ years of experience.

      I do understand that not everyone else is immune to praise like me and I try hard to give positive feedback. Many of my staff bask in praise but a couple are just like me.

    4. lunchtime caller*

      It’s actually very possible to improve mindsets and behaviors with the benefit of experience and lots of purposeful self-reflection (perhaps guided by books and online sources). And in fact, it seems like that’s happening here with the LW. I do think therapy is great for lots of people, but I think it’s a bit much to take it so far that we act like no one could possibly grow as a person without outside paid intervention.

    5. Willow Pillow*

      To add to the responses about this being an extreme response, therapy isn’t something you can just order like a Big Mac. There are different types of therapy, and the one that seems to be most popular these days (CBT) doesn’t work for some people. Lower-cost options also tend to be short-term – 6-12 sessions isn’t enough for a complex, long-term issue. They might not be a good fit due to location, hours, religious differences (Catholic Social Services isn’t going to be a healthy environment for everyone!).

      LW knows they need to do something, they wouldn’t have written in otherwise. They don’t need a lecture.

  13. DW*

    LW2, even before I worked in a drug-treatment clinic (for three years), I opposed the so-called war on drugs and supported decriminalizing all substances, coupled with making treatment easy to obtain. And I realize that smoking pot isn’t the same as taking certain drugs that cause greater changes to personality and judgement.

    That said, I question one of your rationalizations — that a person who’s working at a desk rather than operating heavy machinery shouldn’t be tested for substances. I don’t want the infrastructure we depend on being designed by someone who’s been drinking alcohol, smoking pot, or taking benzos for anxiety/insomnia — I want to know that the employees who design these crucial items are and were 100% attentive during the process, given that a malfunction can cause serious injury and/or death.

    1. ferrina*

      OP isn’t advocating coming to work high. Drug tests don’t distinguish between “smoked a joint on the weekend” and “high on the job”. I also don’t want my boss to be drunk on the job, but don’t care if they have a glass of wine after work.

      I also question your assumption that we should try to make sure everyone is 100% attentive. This is utterly unrealistic- someone doesn’t sleep well, they have a fight with their partner, they have food poisoning….should someone call out every time they can’t fully focus? For every single role? Nothing would ever get done. Not to mention we’d exclude anyone with chronic health conditions (arthritis distracting you? ADHD? IBS mean you need frequent breaks?) This is why we have acceptable margins of error, flexibility and systems in place to safety net our work. For example, if I’m tired I’m more likely to produce typos, but those documents will be reviewed by a second set of eyes. And for internal emails, I don’t even do that, because the acceptable margin of error on internal emails is broader than on external communications. Some jobs naturally have a lower margin of error, due to the nature of the work. Operating heavy machinery and health care roles have much less room for error than most copy editors. This is why OP said they aren’t against all drug tests, just the blanket drug tests.

      1. Phryne*

        If I may be nitpicky for a sec, people who have food poisoning should 100% call out of work. Most ‘food poisoning’ is actually not from food but transferred via surfaces like the toilet door handle, and they need to keep their cooties at home… ;P

        Anyway, fully agree with you. Compulsory drug testing is for places where mistakes cost fingers or lives, not mild annoyance.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Truly baffled that someone could somehow think that an employee would do a better job if they *don’t* treat their anxiety or insomnia???? Or do you think people with anxiety just shouldn’t be allowed to work in offices at all????

    2. Dahlia*

      Seriously, you don’t think people taking prescribed anxiety medication can’t work on on “infrastructure”?

      You think people can’t go home and have a glass of wine after doing that and still do their jobs well?

  14. Lisa*

    LW1, would it help to shift from praising people to thanking them when it’s a task/thing they dislike? It seems you could both appreciate that they did the thing and acknowledge that they don’t like doing the thing.

  15. nodramalama*

    LW1 reminds me when someone would give me clearly a terrible project with no clear end site they would tell me “it’s great for your resumes.” yeah, if i survive it!

    I don’t mind getting praise for work i don’t like, because it feels like at least somebody is acknowledging they’ve given me something terrible. I do not like praise for doing the bare minimum or regular tasks.

    1. coffee*

      99% of the time, “it’s great for your resume” means “this will be a complete pain in the arse and you will probably receive nothing but empty compliments once it’s done”.

      1. ferrina*

        Ugh, the praise in place of actual recognition gets me.
        “Oh, gosh, we really appreciate you doing this super hard thing! We won’t promote you, pay you more, or give you better assignments; in fact, we’ll give you more of the crappiest work because you are good at making diamonds from crap. You’ll hate it every step of the way, but we don’t really care if you’re happy. We appreciate you- actually, we just appreciate that you make our lives easier. Keep doing that!”

    2. Irish Teacher*

      That would drive me mad on so many levels. For a start, it implies I am planning on leaving my job (I know we can never say never but now that I have a job, my main priority most of the time is not “will this benefit me if at some point I have to leave this job and apply elsewhere?” I might think that if I got a big promotion or something, but just doing a horrible project? No).

      And it also comes across as a bit…parent-to-child. “Do this unpleasant task. It will benefit you when you are older and obviously you, as a child, need me, the adult in the room to tell you that.” Except I’m not a child and I am likely to know better than anybody else what will benefit me (and having an unpleasant task on my resume may well not as it might not be that relevant to the stuff I do want to do).

      And lastly, it’s…sort of fake. They aren’t really asking you to do it for the benefit of your resume. They want you to do it because the task has to be done and I would far rather be told, “look, we need you to do this. I know it’s a pain, but it has to be done” than pretend it’s for my benefit and I’m just too stupid to figure that out without them telling me

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I feel this so hard. Just level with me on stuff. I’m a big girl and I can handle it. Being transparently fake just makes me like and respect someone less. And trust them less because what else are they bullshitting me about? This type of thing has very much the opposite effect than what was intended.

  16. Coyote River*

    OP2, honestly I’m not sure if there was any other choice. If your partner accepted that role she would either have to discontinue using marijuana or continue taking it in defiance of policy and run the risk of getting tested and caught, which would almost certainly result in a firing.

    1. Dahlia*

      She was never planning on accepting the role. They wrote in asking for help on whether to say WHY in the rejection letter or not.

  17. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW1, you might find it interesting to do some reading on Self-Determination Theory. It’s a theory of human motivation and has helped me to understand why I’ve been frustrated in some situations.

    The basics are that people are more intrinsically motivated when they are supported in having some control over what they’re doing (autonomy), the tasks aren’t too easy or too hard (competence), and when they have positive relationships with the other people involved (relatedness).

    You noted that there were issues with autonomy in that job, so there’s one issue. Your letter doesn’t really get into the competence piece, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a mismatch there. Was it easy and therefore boring? Then the praise thing meant relatedness took a hit, too, because you didn’t feel seen or understood by someone with whom you had an important relationship. (I mean “important” here in the practical sense, not emotional).

  18. Mmm.*

    LW 1: I get where you were coming from and why it could feel manipulative! That goes double if you had ever said something like “can I pass on this task? I just find it interrupts my day and my mood” or something. Or if you just had a manager who seemed to know who hated what and assigned things accordingly, then told everything they were so great at this one thing.

    I’m really glad it has informed your managerial style and you’re willing to acknowledge when a task is necessary but not particularly fulfilling to your staff. Just be sure to not only do this with things you didn’t like.

  19. Anononononon*

    LW2, I’m thrilled for you and your partner! Enjoy the big gay wedding planning, it’s a fun ride :)

  20. Cyndi*

    LW1: I saw the title and went “ooooh me too!” and then read and discovered that LW’s problem wasn’t in fact the same as mine: I get angry when people praise work I’m not satisfied with. My knee jerk thought is: it’s not good, you must know it’s not good, why won’t you admit it?

    And no, I know this isn’t great either, and I’ve gotten really good at not letting on when that unreasonable anger hits! But it still hits.

  21. Say My Name*

    LW#2 – would you be willing to share with Allison (so she could share with all of us) the letter you used to describe drug testing as a DEI issue? With personal info redacted of course. I know I would love to have that on file for future times this comes up, and I bet the rest of the community would too.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      Not LW2, but one way it can be a DEI issue is if the testing method has a disparate impact. For instance, if the company’s test method of choice is hair testing, some ethnic groups have thicker hair than others, and thicker hair tests positive for longer after quitting.

    2. Gemstones*

      I was wondering that, too. Are they saying people of color are more likely to do drugs…because that seems weird. If they’re testing everyone across the board, it doesn’t seem like a DEI issue.

Comments are closed.