Becoming a Manager
Part of becoming an adult is getting used to taking control.
And when I say “control,” I mean occasionally telling people what to do.
By nature, some of us inherently like to do this, and some of us don’t. Anyone who has been around lots of children can tell you that some kids are bossy and others just want to be left alone. There’s a personality component in play here.
I personally don’t. Never have. My default setting is to let people do whatever it is they want to do. Hands-off.
Toward the end of my second year at FinancialCompany, the powers that be decided to make everyone on Team Cthulhu into a manager within twelve months.
It was time to start learning how to be bossy myself, hands-on and everything. I was not looking forward to it.
If you’ve stayed with me through the billion words of this never-ending blog post, you know I had a lot to do in Year 6.
The prep work involved to become a manager added even more responsibilities. Specifically I was now reviewing resumes for candidates, interviewing them, having internal meetings to discuss hiring progress, and creating reports to document what I thought of various people.
The vision for our group was to bring consultants on board to do the low level technical work, while we, the team of muppets, directed them and worked on ‘higher-value-add’ stuff. Aside: The whole ‘higher-value-add’ bit is a phrase frequently used by management to make them feel better about managing. Like: We’re not doing the real work, but we’re overseeing it, and that’s more important than actually being on the assembly line, you know, getting dirty and manufacturing goods ourselves, so we’re doing the higher-value-add work.
Right. It’s total bullshit, of course, and I don’t feel this way. I’ve always felt that doing the work, solving the problems, and being in the trenches is the most engaging and satisfying work, far more so than just ordering someone to do it. Anyone can give orders and chase people around — and it’s not that interesting to perform in that particular function. A bossy monkey with a high tolerance for boredom can do it.
Still, I was about to become one of those chasers. It wasn’t optional. This was the direction of the team, to become a group of managers, our new marching orders given from the very top of FinancialCompany’s hierarchy.
Starting in my third year at FinancialCompany, I began to train new hires, distribute work, and evaluate their performance. I briefly tried to resist this path, telling Cthulhu I wanted to remain an IC (Individual Contributor.)
But you can guess how that turned out. He droned something along the lines of: IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU HIRE AND MANAGE THE NEW TEAM NONCOMPLIANCE IS UNACCEPTABLE YOU MUST PERFORM HIGHER VALUE TASKS
I know for many people, this sort of promotion would seem to be a blessing — validation of a healthy employer-employee relationship, proof that you were getting ahead.
But to me, it felt like punishment.