Almost 60 days ago, I started my new position as Mid-Level Quality Engineering Manager.
In about 18 months, I went from entry level engineer to mid-level manager! Once I got into the job, I realized that being a manager is much harder than it looks. At times, I felt overwhelmed BUT, each day it gets easier and things start to make sense. In this position, I get some extrinsic rewards like: financial, status, positional power, etc. I also get some intrinsic rewards such as: connecting people, making a positive impact on the team, intellectual challenges, constant learning, etc. I have a cool team of 17 people consisting of engineers, inspectors and a project manager (dispersed throughout California).
I have a lot of work ahead of me, but with any job, you gotta take the good with the bad!
Want to go into management? Go through this list to get a feeling of what I’m talking about before you make the leap!
Here are some things you might experience as a first time manager:
- You’ll learn about what your predecessor(s) did right (and “wrong”).
- You’ll rely on your team for their technical expertise.
- You’ll have a steep learning curve no matter what.
- You’ll sometimes attend meetings in your PJs from your kitchen table. * Thank God for a company laptop 🙂 *
- People will want to know more about you and ask personal questions.
- You’ll meet some really cool people in “high places” in the company.
- You’ll realize that some issues will work themselves out. * Relax *
- You’ll immediately recognize who your top employees are.
- You’ll be glad you’re a little EVMS (Earned Value Management System) savvy.
- A few of your direct reports will call you “Boss” when they want something and it’ll make you laugh.
- You’ll get to know other managers on a personal level.
- Some of your direct reports will look you up on Google and LinkedIn.
- Your team will be skeptical about your existence, but will soon get over it.
- You’ll (possibly) hear, “I have kids your age (or older).”
- You’ll accidentally create more work for your boss. * It’ll be ok…BREATHE *
- You’ll shoot off an email and say, “Fuck!” after hitting “Send”…and once again when you see, “Your attempt to recall this message has FAILED”.
- You’ll be CC’d on A LOT of unnecessary emails. * Sit back and watch the show *
- Most people will want to see you succeed.
- Very few will want you to fail.
- You’ll get more SPIRITUAL. * Not necessarily religious…they’re different *
- Some people will be jealous about your promotion. Show ’em why you’re THE BEST! 😀
- Seasoned managers will want to help you. Let them, but make your own decisions…you’re the boss!
- All managers remember their “1st time”…managing! And they’ll want to help you; let them.
- You’ll be sent a meeting invite 5 mins before the meeting starts…in another building.
- Get ready to represent your boss in his/her absence. * Take good notes *
- You’ll be more than a manager, you’ll be a: coach, mentor, advocate, trailblazer, bitch, counselor and a bunch of other things.
- You’ll realize that you should have held out for WAYYYYYY more money!
- You’ll often think, “Man, I could have said that better…”
- Or my favorite, “I really shouldn’t have said that…”
- You’ll wonder how your old managers made their work look so damn easy!
- You’ll laugh at yourself often.
- You’ll often times work through lunch and take more breaks when things are “quiet.”
- You’ll become a slave to your inbox(es). (I have 3 company email accounts, a cell phone and a pager…YES a pager in 2016!)
- You’ll appreciate quiet moments more than you used to.
- Part of your salary will be spent on massages, a personal trainer and a housekeeper. (And it’ll be worth it!)
- You might rethink wanting to go into executive management.
- You’ll wonder how your boss (Director) and boss’ boss (VP) do it all!
- You’ll soon realize that these are growing pains and it’ll make sense soon enough.
- Despite the craziness, you’ll be glad to be away from your old job.
- You’ll thank GOD for direct reports who are self-directed and can provide you with some direction as well.
- Some of your largest frustrations will be with other managers who go to your boss instead of you when they have an issue.
- You’ll love being able to occasionally leave work early on a Friday…
- Usually because you’ve already put in a 40-hour work week before Thursday afternoon.
- You’re constantly being looked to for guidance.
- You’ll swap stories with other managers and realize how lucky you are!
- You’ll spend a majority of your time in meetings. * Learn to love ’em *
- A good way to break the ice with your team is a good laugh.
- The quickest way to gain trust is to follow through on commitments.
- You’ll instantly gain more confidence.
- You’ll realize that “Time Management” is not just some buzz phrase, it’s MANDATORY!
- You’ll spent 80% of your time on 20% of the people. * You’ll be on the phone with HR for that 20% *
- You’ll quickly learn how to deliver “bad news”…and of course, it’ll suck.
- You’ll unconsciously think about work in the shower, while getting a massage, and other times. It will annoy the shit out of you!
- Meeting with each team member 1-on-1 is the best way to get to know them on a personal level.
- You’ll wonder why you fought so hard to get into this crazy job.
- Then you’ll remember that you: wanted to help people, you love the challenge of solving new problems, your products are super-cool and you’re making a positive difference.
- For you, that’s more than enough motivation to leap out of the bed around 4:30AM each day. 🙂
Being a manager is no easy task. You’ll enjoy being a manager if you enjoy a challenge, working with people and genuinely enjoy the products your team create. These are some of my experiences as a new manager. For the most part, it’s been a positive experience despite its challenges. I’m glad I made the leap!
Are you an aspiring leader?
Which items on the list surprised you the most? What can you do to prepare for the challenges of management?
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