My manager, of the section I’ve been in since August, is transitioning to retirement. In the past six months, he’s been not at work more than he’s been at work – mainly using up his holiday and long service leave. A number of people have stepped into his role and run the section during this time – my equals, and other ‘higher’ staff moving from one role to another.
The time had come for my six weeks in the chair/office.
My former manager, whom I worked under for 2.5 years, put my name forward to act in this management role for the six weeks. This former boss, in recent restructures, has moved a peg up the hierarchy, so what he says goes! I know that he wouldn’t have suggested me if he didn’t think I had some of the skills required to do the job. On the other hand, without some practice at a role, it would be hard for me to know if I was suited to it too. And of course, in our company, career progression rests a lot on your ‘dress rehearsal’ in a role, and they see what you’re really made of!
Today marks the 6th day as the manager of a team of about 8 staff. Since Monday, I’ve even moved into the office, and had ‘closed door’ meetings – something our company never did until recently. Sign of the times I suppose.
I don’t think I realised how many emails I’d be copied into. How do you file messages you get as a FYI that ping around between people? How often should I bombard my team with the messages I’ve been asked to pass on? I have a pretty good email filing system for my ‘normal’ role, and for my previous role, but for six weeks, I wonder if I should be structuring things or just letting it be a box of ’email clutter’ for the six weeks.
Besides emails, people call. And I take notes: of calls; of chats; of meetings. If I don’t, I can’t recall the facts. What do I do with these bits of paper? How do I arrange them? When are they obsolete? I can’t file them under projects (as I did in my first role here) and I can’t file them under dates (in my usual role). They just seem to spawn and spread any logical boundary!
The biggest thing that I’m struggling with is learning just how little work is being delivered by my some of colleagues, and how I can change that, even by 5%, so the company can deliver of it’s end of financial year goals. There’s next to no risk of being fired in my company, and despite being in the critical infrastructure industry, there’s often little urgency in day to day work! I just want to ‘get back in the trenches’ and get stuff done – within my own patch, and help wherever I can. I’ve been told, point blank, to give the management role a good go, and therefore ignore all my usual responsibilities in the trenches. It feels really uncomfortable to feel like I’m not working, but just managing (just asking people where things are at, when they’ll be done, what the problems etc etc etc).
It’s clear I can’t be rank and file from 29 to retirement. I know this. However, I’m definitely not prepared or adjusted to some of the logistics, and the ideas of ‘work’ that come from being part of middle management. Any advice would be welcome – practical or philosophical.