Sunday, 30 November 2014

A Little Miss Management

So once again I'm finding myself at another fork in the career road. Not long after making it to Deputy Team Manager (a role I had been coveting for a good few months), my ops manager threw me a curve ball. I had tried to prepare myself for a journey into management; joined the Chartered Management Institute and was about to start some volunteering, subscribed to some management newsletters and was trying to figure out ways of improving my technique so that I could make myself a better manager than I was giving myself credit for.

And then the curve ball hit. In the summer the company put me through a Train the Trainer course and I became one of a group of people the company could call upon to deliver training. I haven't actually carried out any company-wide training because of time-restraints within the team, but I've done a lot of training and presentations for my department, and it turns out I'm actually pretty darned good at it. Even earlier than the TTT course it had obviously become apparent to the ops manager that I have a bit of talent when it comes to writing training programmes, juggling departmental figures and coming up with ways to try and improve processes in the team, because about 2 months ago the ops manager asked if I'd like to take a side-step away from management and into training. It's something that the group who owns the company had identified as a 'high priority need', and given my knowledge of the department and my apparent skill at training etc. I seemed the obvious choice; after all, it's probably easier to back fill a management position than find someone else to do training.

I had to give it some serious, I must admit. The thought of standing in front of groups of people day in, day out, delivering training fills me with dread. Just because I'm good at something, doesn't mean I enjoy it. I'm much more interested in the juggling the figures side of it, and the - what I loving refer to as - fiddling about with spreadsheets. I was firmly assured that my expectations of the role were right and that I wasn't going to be delivering training constantly (although it would be a bit part of my role in various forms), so I graciously accepted. After a 6-or-so week lead-in so far with another 2 month handover to the new DTM ahead of me, on Monday 1st December  I 'officially' start my new role as Training and Project Lead.

In the 6-or-so weeks since I accepted I've written down a hundred different areas I want to focus on; areas I'm aware need some attention to improve processes / quality / efficiency on the team and I'm itching to get started and put my head-bursting amount of ideas to some kind of practical use.

The difficulty with it all is that it's yet another side step for me. I'm worried that I'm going to end up taking so many side steps that I'll never move forward. The saving grace this time is that I was actually INVITED to do this by a manager. Someone actually recognised some skill or talent in me and invited me to do this before it was even on the table as an option. I had been almost blindly following down the management path because I thought it was the only real option within the team and in my haste to get somewhere I just kept on going. It's only now that this new option was given to me that I see why it's a far more suitable choice and one I'm more likely to be able to develop into something better. THIS is my chance. The management route has developed me in ways I couldn't have expected within the last 10 months. It has given me a certain confidence in myself and an assurance of my ability to lead but it's not really for me. I'm not saying I wouldn't have made a great manager because to be honest, I think I would've. I COULD'VE done it, but as I said earlier, there's a difference between being good at something and enjoying it and I don't think I would've truly enjoyed management. I see now that I like getting to the end of the day and having something to show for my day's work. You rarely get that in management because most of your day is spent checking other people's work and making sure your team is doing their job and the client is happy. In this new role I'll have something tangible to show for my efforts - a new training material or feedback sheets from a training session I've carried out, or some completed documents for a project I'm working on. It's measurable, and I'm all about measuring progress.

I'm just hoping that my enthusiasm and skill for the job will keep me moving forward. It's really difficult at this stage to see where it might lead and I'm having to stop myself thinking too much about it because it will drive me mad. For the time being I'm just going to have to get on with it and make sure I do it well and hope that it will naturally lead to something in the future.

I preach to the analysts in my team that if you want to get noticed and if you want progression, the best thing you can do is carry on doing your normal job, but do it REALLY well. You're far more likely to get notice for doing your actual job better than anyone else than for volunteering for all and sundry but doing a half-baked job if it. It's about time I started practising what I preach.