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.
I like your comment about just wanting to do the work instead of managing the work. I feel the same way. It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level. Personally, I find the actual work itself much more rewarding and less stressful than having to deal with personnel issues and being responsible for other people’s work.
“some kind of weirdo” — exactly. When I did finally leave FinComp. I remember telling my Dad that I was going to take a pay-cut to work somewhere else with potentially more satisfying work. His head nearly exploded: between the loss of title-based status and the drop in compensation, he just absolutely could not comprehend the rationale behind the decision. He’s one of those guys that thinks “work is a misery no matter what, so you might as well get paid as much as possible.” PS, it turned out to be a good move anyways.
“It seems like people think you’re some kind of weirdo if you’re not constantly striving to advance to management level.” So true. Try being a secretary, always having wanted to be one, being really good at it and never having had any desire to manage people at all. So many people seem to just kind of fall in to secretarial/admin work because they can’t get anything else and then try and use it as a stepping stone to other work (should I blame that Melanie Griffith/Harrison Ford film?) that, yep, managers seem to think you’re some kind of weirdo if you don’t want to do what they’re doing. I think at some point I came to the realisation that it’s only natural, since people will judge you by their own standards, so to speak, and if they have the ambition or desire to manage and move up in a company, they struggle to understand those who don’t.
Glad I came back to finish reading through your archives, by the way. It’s very useful and I think I’m going to try and do something similar. I have no FU money and will never retire early but nonetheless will be handing in my notice by the end of this quarter (have a three months from end of quarter notice period). I just reached a point recently where I realised it’s the same old shit starting to happen that sent me to the brink of a nervous breakdown three years ago and it’s just not worth it. I think it’ll be really good to look back on not just this but all of my jobs till now and try and remember the good and the bad about each of them. It’d be good to have that stuff clear in my head when choosing my next one. Thanks.
So, were the coins really as big as your whole body (Mario graphic ref)? No wonder we like VG so much, you get to travel to inventive places and get rich just by jumping up and grabbing floating money. Interesting comment about your Dad, mine would be pretty surprised by my financial situation. He knows we’ve had it good, and he had it good too, but I don’t think he knows how different the working world is. Also, not to be to random in this comment, but I like how you are treating this as ‘the work experience’ – it’s just one of many options available. I hated my previous choice, but is was necessary and I would’ve chaffed at it being called an experience, but my latest gig is definitely an open ended ‘experience’.
Video games aren’t an improvement over many parts of life (hiking, eating, and hanging around with my wife come to mind), but there’s no question they’re better than office life, hands down, all day, every day. On the subject of the parents — I can’t even tell my Dad what’s going on with me financially — he would shit a brick if he knew I was on the edge of retiring, and I’m not sure there’d be any way to calm him down. It’s weird — he dislikes work but simultaneously accepts that it’s a mandatory part of life to be endured, at least through age 60. For me to tell him I’ve just short-cutted the misery, well, I’m just not sure what he’d say. My first guess is “lazy.” If you ever tell your dad, I’d love to read a post about the experience… To your ‘random’ comment (love random comments btw): absolutely, even within a certain field or industry, things vary quite a bit from job to job, and each option ends up having its own distinct feel. Glad you left your own bad fit job and you’re somewhere that feels better now! Good for you, EV.
What am I missing? This is not a long post… is it somewhere else now? Was it removed? Thanks for any info you can give me.
There are links to pages underneath the all of the wordpress.com stuff at the end of the page.
I just added some navigation tip reminders to the opening pages of the job experience posts to help folks find their way.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
Durr got it! Haha can’t believe I missed it. Thanks for the help! I’m going through all your posts and quite frankly… they’re awesome.
Your blog is really entertaining so far. I’ve been reading it from A-Z. You make me laugh!
I’ve been reading through your work stories over the last few days. Found my way hear after reading somebody else’s particularly entertaining work stores on MMM and fellow posters talking about “Doom.”
I’m really enjoying them but Cthulu’s behavior makes me a little physically sick. We all know there are bosses like that out in the world. But reading a detailed description of it is quite disturbing.
On a lighter note. I love the stories! Very entertaining writing with lots of introspection and interesting observations.
“JUSTIFY YOUR INACTION IN WRITING” had me laughing for a good minute. Great writing.