Management is a thankless job

I came up with the title for this article following a recent argument I’ve had at the workplace. Then, just before starting to write - I googled it. At first I was surprised at the amount of results, but after a minute - not so much.

It’s f#$%^@g hard being a manager. Especially a good one.

When your team does something right - you give them the credit. When something goes south - you take the blame on yourself. You’re expected to adapt to different situations and treat every team member with a special, customized, treatment. You hold all these 1:1 meetings that can be magnificently awkward. Where you’re expected to let the other person vent, be attentive and focused and know how to say the right words at the right time. You’re doing so while getting very little feedback from your own manager and when trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations. You consume your time in tons of meeting, instead of coding - the thing you used to love and was pretty damn good at. Context switches and multi tasking is the default. Be able to deliver right here and now but at the same time having a sustainable team. Build the best teams you can, while recruiting and onboarding more people in. You are in constant disarray and chaos - everyone is expecting you to provide clarity and guidance when at the same time you have no idea where you should be going.

To top all that, you want to grow yourself, so you’re constantly pushing your own boundaries and not settling into the comfort zone. You want to give away your Legos but the person on the receiving end doesn’t appreciate it and is positive they can do a better job than you, leaving you to feel like a failure. You delegate but sometimes nothing new comes in instead, leaving you hanging, wondering what exactly you should be doing today...

So what do you do?

Well, believe in yourself.

  • Go get feedback - from your manager, from peers, from your team - The negative parts will give you a reality check and knowledge about where you need to improve. The positive parts will provide you with a much needed sense of accomplishment

  • Be able to tell to yourself, every time your team does well - that you had a part in that. The ability to pinpoint that part (“I was able to clear that dependency out of the way”) is even better so take a close attention at the things you do explicitly so that you can remember them later

  • Embrace the struggle - it means you’re going the right way, it’s only the unknown that fights back. If you aren’t struggling - you’re not improving, you’re staying still

  • Focus - it’s nearly impossible to fix or improve all things at once. It also takes time. Create a plan for handling 2-3 important items every time. Timeframe should be 1-3 months for each item, then check and revise

  • Be nice - Try (hard!) not to blame the world. This was your choice. Have perspective - it’s only a job. Keep it light, don’t offend anyone even when you have an especially bad day. Be appreciative of any true feedback and acknowledgement, the same way you'd have wanted other to be to you

  • Get help - a mentor, a trustworthy peer group, HR person and even professional help. Don’t do it on your own

Good luck!