Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A different kind of pressure...

"The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us."
--Francois de la Rochefoucauld

For 13 years, I managed a group of 60 to 70 Publications professionals in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho...and for 3 years before that I supervised a much smaller group of staff in Portland. When I got into supervision and management at the age of 29, most of the people I was supervising were older than me. No more!

At the beginning of 2009, our group restructured and my job changed and responsiblilities shifted so that I was managing a much smaller group of staff (in Oregon, Hawaii, and Alaska only) and taking on a firmwide functional sort of role (providing strategic guidance in the area of business development). I felt somewhat regretful giving up my larger management role at first, but my travel was drastically curtailed, and after 13 years of being fully funded as a manager, I was back to hunting for work (and project numbers) to keep myself busy. But something surprising happened: I realized that I really liked what I was doing...especially because I had a lot more time to do what I enjoy most: writing and editing, especially internal communications.

In 2010, my job changed again and I gave up the staff management altogether--now I have only one person reporting to me. It has felt freeing to give up most of the management responsibilities after all those years. Now I no longer have to deal with HR (which has become highly dysfunctional in my company), worry about people's job satisfaction, mediate between employees, deal with difficult clients, place people on performance improvement plans, or lay people off. It's not my problem any more, and I like that feeling for the moment. I realize that eventually I could end up managing people again, and that's okay, too. For now, it's good.

In the past couple of weeks, I've been writing and managing a proposal (proposals are how we get work in consulting), burning the midnight oil. It was due today. Not only were we a couple of hours ahead of the deadline, but we were also 3 pages under the 25-page text limit. (It also had 25 pages of resumes and additional information, and involved coordinating the input of 12 subconsultants.) It wore me out, and it's hard to imagine going back to daily proposal management. Before I got into people management, I managed proposals and dealt with deadline pressure on a constant basis. All that was before I had kids. Now that I've come up for air again (and I plan to take a few days off to recover!), I realize that it's just a different kind of pressure.

Although my company is going through a lot of changes that can be upsetting for those of us who have been around for awhile (I've been there for 20 years next month)...our long-time CEO died last year, and we have a new one who is making many changes, mostly to do with cost cutting, and that's always a bitter pill to swallow...I realize that I am truly enjoying what I do. I work with highly talented colleagues, and it's an ethical company doing good things in the world. I get to write, edit, provide mentoring and training, and initiate improvements in the way we do things. I am in a good space.

But I won't be volunteering to manage any more proposals any time soon. Back to the newsletters, intranet stories, and business development initiatives for awhile. Until I catch my breath again.

Now it's time to get back to my organizing life.

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