Sunday, March 19, 2017

Move to Management

I had an unexpected shift in career trajectory resulting from my former manager's retirement at the end of February 2017.

I hadn't really seen myself in management...I'd always preferred the alternative of focusing on my own work as an individual contributor, getting closer to the guts of our program under test, Statistica.  But when presented with the opportunity, it seemed like the right course of action.

A few random realizations from 2.5 weeks:
  • None of us is an individual contributor.  We get where we are based on learning from others early in our career and first few years of tenure at a particular job.  And once we're the senior people on the team, we have a responsibility to be the teachers and guides.  The circle of professional life.  
  • Caring about your team gets you pretty far.  I've already had a few moments where I didn't know what to do, and I half-expected someone responsible to show up and take the decision out of my hands.  But alas, I was the person responsible.   I had a similar feeling about becoming a parent.  You try to prepare yourself, you learn what you can, you care intensely, you do your best, you admit your mistakes and learn from them. 
  • I can't do everything I feel like I could write a Dr. Seuss-like book "Oh the balls you will drop!" I'm such a people-pleaser and I've been described as "helpful to a fault".  I have to get over this! Sometimes things are going to sit as low-priority tasks for a while, and I will have to deal with the feeling that I'm letting someone down.  Sometimes I'm going to hurt feelings or not be strong enough in my email replies since I didn't read over it an obsessive number of times, scanning for alternative interpretations or hedging words.  
Obviously I have a lot to learn, but my team is amazing and I'm getting a lot of support from other managers, so I think everything will be okay :-)