my boss’s praise is alienating my coworkers, dealing with frustrated temps, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss’s praise is alienating my coworkers

I’ve been with my company for four months in a sales position and in that time, I have become the number one sales rep in our company. My boss constantly praises me during our weekly sales meetings, and I think it’s beginning to irritate some of my coworkers. I have a good relationship with all of them, but I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed when my boss keeps using me as the measuring stick for their performance. Most of these people have been with my company for at least three years. I don’t know what to do about this. Of course I like the praise and recognition, but at the same time I don’t want to be seen as the boss’s pet. Do you have any suggestions?

Do you have reason to think all the praise is alienating your coworkers? Do people seem annoyed? How are your relationships with them? It’s possible that people are much more matter of fact about this than you’re worried they’ll be, so first make sure that you’re reading the situation correctly.

But if you’re seeing evidence that it’s becoming a problem — or even if it’s just making you uncomfortable — it’s perfectly reasonable to say (in private) something like this to your boss: “I really appreciate the great things you’ve said about my work, but I’m a little worried about being praised so much in front of other team members. I want to make sure I maintain good relationships with them, and I’m concerned about creating tension if my sales numbers are always being cited as the benchmark.” A good manager will hear that and tone down the public accolades.

2. Does this performance plan really exist?

My husband is in a situation that strikes me as somewhat odd. The management at his work is fairly incompetent, which has been a growing source of frustration for him, and he’s actively looking for a new job. However, at his recent annual review, he was informed that he’d be put on a “performance plan,” which would be discussed at a later meeting. He decided (and I agree) that the best course of action would be to accept the terms of the performance plan without argument and seek clarification on the metrics of the plan wherever possible, but on the whole redouble job-searching efforts.

Well, the later meeting came and went. There was no documentation of the plan, no follow-up email to document the conversation, and no HR presence (which is required by the company’s policy). Will the absence of documentation help or hurt him here? Is he better off quietly going about his business and not raising the issue of the details of the PIP, or should he be more proactive about the situation?

It could go either way. It’s possible that there isn’t an official PIP in place, which potentially helps him. But it’s also possible that there is one in place, and that he’s at a disadvantage from not seeing the details laid out within it about what he needs to improve in order to keep his job. The disadvantage posed by the second scenario is far greater than any advantage under the first scenario, so I’d encourage him to seek clarification from his manager.

3. Dealing with temps who are frustrated that I haven’t found work for them

I’ll be working in a temp agency as a recruiter. I admit I’m not the greatest at diffusing angry clients, but what would be the best thing to say to a client who is upset because “it’s taking so long” to place them on a job? It’s a sensitive situation and I don’t want to say anything that may offend them. I feel like saying “we’re doing the best we can” isn’t enough. Or is it?

Well, there’s a problem with the premise here. Job candidates are not your clients. Your clients are the employers who hire you to fill jobs for them. You don’t want to imply to candidates that you’ll “place” them, because that’s not what you do. And there are some job candidates you might never place, because they’re not right for any of the roles you’re charged with filling.

As for what to say to candidates who are frustrated that they haven’t had work assignments yet, I’d be honest with them about their chances and the fact that there’s no guarantee of whether or when you’ll have work for them, and explain a bit about how you fill assignments and what you’re generally looking for when you do.

4. How can I decline management responsibilities without damaging my career?

I’m one of the many people who excel at their job and therefore find themselves managing other employees. I seek guidance for managing people and do my best, but I don’t enjoy it. I accept it for now, but if I find myself in the position of being assigned supervisory duties again, how can I let an employer know that I’m not interested in that role without damaging my career?

Yeah, this is an annoying thing about many workplaces — the assumption is that as you get better and better at what you do, you should start managing people. It’s bizarre, because managing people is generally a totally different skill set than the work you’ve been excelling at your own. And yet many employers don’t have a track for moving up that doesn’t involve managing people.

But you shouldn’t manage people if it’s not something you’re truly interested in doing (because that usually leads to it being done badly). The only way around it is to be direct: “I love doing X, and I want to focus my energies on becoming better and better at that. Managing others is a different skill, and something I’d rather not return to.” However, you should also think about / talk about what you do want to focus on, and be realistic about the trade-offs in not managing people. (For instance, if you’re, say, an accountant and you never want to manage other accountants, there’s probably a limit on what you can earn and how much responsibility will be available to you, and there’s no easy way around that.)

5. How do I explain why I want to leave my current job?

I’ve been working at my current organization for 12 months, and generally enjoy my job. Recently however, the organization has lost a major contract and rumors are rife that other large contracts will be pulled too, which isn’t helping staff morale. Senior management & the CEO of the organisation have expressed confidence & optimism for the future, but many of my coworkers are unconvinced.

I want to start a job search just in case things do get worse, but I am worried this will make me look flaky to potential employers, particularly when expressing why I want to leave my current job. I’m concerned that telling the truth and saying I’m worried about my job security will look like I’m being very disloyal to my current employer for jumping ship before it potentially sinks.

At the same time, I feel using a cliched “I’m looking for new opportunities” answer will make me look flaky and like I can’t stick to a job for any length of time. My 5 years of professional work history include a 2 year job I left because I was being bullied, an 18 month job I left to pursue full-time education (although those plans fell through at the last minute) and now the 12 months I’ve put in to my current role. I’m concerned this will make me look like a job hopper, even though my leaving each job was fully justified at the time, and simply because I was bored.

So how do I go about answering the “why do you want to leave your current job?” question without lying, looking like a job hopper, or coming across as a disloyal employee?

Nope, it’s totally normal to say, “We’re having some funding issues, and I’d like to move somewhere more stable.” That’s not badmouthing; that’s a normal, reasonable explanation. Frankly, you could be even more specific and say “we lost a major contact and may be losing more” — but if that’s information that your company doesn’t want public at this point, then I’d start to the first wording.

{ 80 comments… read them below }

  1. frequentflyer*

    Regarding #5 – I would think that if OP were to say “We’re having some funding issues”, this seems to be too much information given to the potential employer, which gives the potential employer an advantage. If the potential employer knows that your current company is having funding issues and you’re in danger of being let go/having your salary cut, he knows you’re in a difficult situation and probably desperate for a job – any job. So you’ve exposed your ‘weakness’ and given the potential employer an unnecessary advantage in the salary negotiation process – potential employer may offer you less because he knows you’re in a difficult situation.

    What I do, is that I never ever state push factors (e.g. funding issues, being bullied) as reasons for leaving. I only state pull factors (e.g. expansion of job scope, more rigorous and better learning opportunities at the potential employer) as reasons. Stating push factors as reasons for leaving, gives the interviewer the upper hand and opens floodgates to many uncomfortable questions, imho.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That can work when you’ve been at the job for a few years, but in this case the OP has only been there a year. It’ll come across a lot better to explain the real reason for looking, because otherwise the OP looks flighty.

      Good employers don’t lowball you because you’re in a difficult situation; good employers offer market rate because they want to attract and retain good employees (who have options).

    2. MK*

      It’s a bit of a stretch to get ”I am desperate to leave and will take any job offer” just from ”funding problems”. After all, even people who are in bad places are looking to improve their work situation, not go somewhere equally bad or worse.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree. And, just because someone is looking to leave their job over funding issues, doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily be the only company interested in hiring them! I could see the point if the OP had been there for longer or if the situation was that the OP was imminently getting laid off, but neither of those things seems to be the case.

        1. some1*

          I was offered more than I asked for when I was unemployed. I agree that a good employer will offer the market rate if they want to hire and retain good people.

        2. frequentflyer*

          I think I know what you guys mean. My assumption was that anyone who switches jobs would want to negotiate a higher salary and giving a push factor as a reason may make negotiation slightly more difficult, especially since OP hasn’t stayed at any job longer than 2 years, and especially if you’re in a hyper competitive profession. I don’t know how the job market is now (I’m not from the US), but where I come from (and I’m not judging!), not many employers would be interested in hiring someone who stays in jobs for decreasing periods of time. (A difficult interviewer might think – 24, 18, 12 months… What next, 6 months?) From my experience… It’s pretty hard to find a good employer these days. :/But good luck OP! Hope you find a good employer.

          1. Dan*

            I can’t speak for every industry, but in mine, I’ve heard people say that we haven’t broken even on an employee (recruiting, onboarding, training, etc) until they’ve been with us for two years. For someone with no experience in the domain, I certainly believe that.

            Translation: If you lowball an employee, he figures it out, and he leaves within two years, you’ve lost money.

            Both of the professional jobs I’ve had, I’ve gotten while not currently employed. My offers have been at or slightly higher than market rate.

    3. Kevin*

      When I hear “lost a contract” or “funding issues,” I have to wonder if the employee contributed to the situation. The organization is made up of various members of a TEAM. As I review employment applications, I always wonder what the truth is.

      A better approach would be to state that “it is rumored that the organization will be undergoing some changes and I want to make sure my employment is stable. If I leave, I can also save a position for other employees shouldn’t be released from employment.” If questions come up about the “rumors” discuss them broadly as if it isn’t your fault and that it really is just a rumor. The organization isn’t likely to confirm it.

      Applications typically give room to explain why you are leaving or left employment. Explain it in a way that the new employer won’t have too many questions.

      Looking at an application right next to me, it says reason for leaving? (All three responses are from the same application.)
      “Lack of Work.” Well it’s interesting that the time you left corresponds to a DUI and suspended license on your driving record.
      “Lack of Work.” You Managed the Bar! Are you kidding me?
      “No Insurance, Benefits, or Retirement.” Is that the only reason why you left? Do you have health issues? Are you looking for an organization that has a Union and is less likely to fire you? Retirement?, are you not good with your money?

      Provide a reasonable response and expect questions or postulations for your response.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “No Insurance, Benefits, or Retirement.” Is that the only reason why you left? Do you have health issues? Are you looking for an organization that has a Union and is less likely to fire you? Retirement?, are you not good with your money?

        Whoa. Wha…? Surely you understand why people want health insurance, even if they don’t have health issues at the present time. (And if they do, that’s totally inappropriate to be thinking about in a hiring context anyway.)

        When I hear “lost a contract” or “funding issues,” I have to wonder if the employee contributed to the situation. The organization is made up of various members of a TEAM. As I review employment applications, I always wonder what the truth is.

        I mean, maybe, if it’s a tiny organization and depending on what the person’s role was. But far more often than not, they had nothing to do with it.

        1. Kevin*

          I’m saying those are things that pop into my head. I’m pretty skeptical.
          I do agree that people want health insurance, but I can’t think in my mind that it is the best choice to put on an application of why a person is leaving employment.
          I can’t say that I’ve left employment or started employment based on health insurance. The compensation package as a whole is what matters, as private insurance is available on the open market.

          Within my organization, I’m also involved in contracting for services about 50% of the time the reason why the contract was cancelled was lack of quality work by the front line employees and management. The other 50% was an overpriced service, which to some extent goes back to the first 50%, could more have been done to enhance the more expensive service.

          1. Bunny*

            Yeah, the job market is horrific enough as it is without employers reading completely random things into an application.

            I mean sure, the DUI thing is pretty obviously sketchy, but benefits? It is natural and normal for people to look out for their own future when it comes to work. Not to mention that someone wanting a job with insurance and a retirement plan is the OPPOSITE of a dodgy risk. They’re saying, very clearly, that they are looking for a long-term career where they can have financial and job security. They’re offering loyalty. They’re telling you they are a good long-term investment. The only reason to be put off by that is if you know your company offers no long-term security or advancement opportunities, and doesn’t invest in it’s staff, because you know this person will be snapped up by a better employer sooner or later. But that’s not a problem with the applicant. You just work for a crappy company.

            I wonder what reasons for leaving WOULDN’T cause you to have suspicions.

            I mean, for me personally, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a minimum wage job with no retirement plan. And if insurance was something I needed (Brit here) that would definitely be a priority for me above and beyond everything else in a benefits package. Because all it takes is one accident, one illness that turns out to be something serious, and without insurance that’s it. I’d be destitute. I’ve heard horror stories of uninsured people in the US needing to pay literally thousands per month for prescriptions for their illnesses. When insurance can make the difference between getting by and having to choose between rent and medicine, why WOULDN’T people prioritise insurance as a reason to move jobs?

      2. LBK*

        Um…wow. This is a little horrifying…first off, retirement accounts have nothing to do with “not being good with your money” – there’s huge tax benefits to saving through a retirement plan instead of just a savings account, plus the potential to grow your savings via investments instead of having them sit in a static bank account. You’re actually pretty bad with money if you DON’T have retirement accounts that you’re regularly contributing to and are just relying on your savings to support you post-retirement.

        Health insurance is also a pretty normal and standard benefit – I have no ongoing health issues but I absolutely wouldn’t take a job at this point in my life where it wasn’t offered. That’s the whole point of insurance, so you have it in case you need it.

        Aside from that, it’s pretty crazy to assume that if someone is leaving because the organization lost contracts or funding that it’s somehow their fault, unless they were very high up or in a very specific role where that was actually their job. Not every person in every company has the oversight or authority to impact the stability of the company as a whole, especially if it’s a big one…

        Not to say there aren’t deceptive people, but it’s pretty scary that you take such a cynical view while hiring.

        1. LBK*

          Speaking just from personal experience – I was laid off once when my store location shut down, which was based on nothing that anyone in the store could’ve controlled. We excelled in all our metrics, corporate just decided they had too many stores in the area and our building had higher rent than the next closest one (which was underperforming at the time).

          Kinda scary you as a hiring manager would apparently hold that against me.

          1. Kevin*

            Let me clarify. I’m not a hiring manager. I advise those that hire for all positions that the supervisors have control over. My advice carries a lot of weight, because if I disagree, they cannot hire that person without someone above me intervening. It has to be a pretty bad situation for them to not hire them. My role was created to prevent the friends and family hiring scenarios, but provides an overall check and balance. The previous manager hired people who went to his church and there were also many family members of existing employees hired, not through a competitive process.

            To an extent, I can buy your explanation as I have also experienced a similar situation in my younger days when a store was closed due to poor corporate decisions or financial situations that are not controllable. I’m assuming that they moved you to the new store? If not, why didn’t they? When it happened to me, compensation was provided to employees to walk away (too many people to employee everyone) and some employees didn’t have the option of moving to the new store (poor performance). I transferred, but looking back I should have taken the compensation package.

            In my opinion, to say that you were “laid off” in the application would have prompted the question of performance. If you had said, “took the compensation package offered to all employees when store closed,” I would assume it was a financial decision and that you felt confident enough to find alternative employment.

        2. Kevin*

          Maybe what they should have said was “not enough pay,” because all those things can be bought. And, it is probably wrong that my mind immediately starts to wonder what else is going on, because it can lead me to the wrong conclusion, to that person’s detriment. Carefully wording the reason why a person left employment is important. It’s one of the few things I skip when looking over applications.

          Retirement accounts in my mind do have something to do with a person’s ability to manage money. What is the opportunity loss by stashing your money away in a retirement account that may or may not have a quality gain. Part of this I guess is about the risk. You also have to consider the pay it now or pay it later aspect of the taxes for the retirement account before you make the judgment of whether it is a bad choice to participate in an employer-sponsored or any other retirement plan. There is also a lot more control in doing your own IRA.

          I, personally, do the minimal amount that I can to obtain the max that the employer will match, because financially it makes sense. I’d rather do my own investments, which may be harder for some people to know how to do. It’s all about the options.

          1. LBK*

            But you have much lower contribution maxes in an IRA, plus there’s no possibility of employer contributions. The tax implications are the same whether it’s a 401(k) or IRA, so that’s completely moot unless for some reason you’re intending to take early withdrawals, which pretty much defeats the whole point of saving for retirement.

            I think you read, way, way, WAY too much of your personal view into something as simple as a job application. I’m honestly frightened by the idea that someone like you has any say in hiring. That you would assume someone who was laid off was a poor performer is also pretty scary. Your biases aren’t any better than the person who hires their friends from church.

  2. SJP*

    OP 1 – Honestly, It’s such a shame that co-workers, instead of being like “I want that sort of praise, Im going to work harder to get better sales” that just end up feeling resentful and bitter.
    Also I can really understand that OP feeling like it would make the others feel alienated and worried it would impact on them, as in being the ‘goodie goodie’ as immature work colleagues would put it so they feel like the outsider. So I think Alison is right and maybe a quiet word with your manager to say they think it’s getting awkward and to please stop publicly praising.

    Just overall why can’t everyone just get along and be happy for others at work and maybe reach out and learn from the OP and find out why they’re doing so well at sales, rather than getting bitter…


    1. blu*

      I’m not sure that it’s that black and white. Her co-workers can be happy for her and still be rubbed the wrong way by the boss constantly citing one person’s work. I think this situation is a little tricky in particular because she is new to the team. Four months isn’t that long, and these people have been on this journey for years. I don’t think it should be her problem, but I don’t think it’s a little tone deaf on the bosses part and could potentially be coming across as “Look at how much better the new person is.” Assuming her co-workers are good salespeople too and that the nature of sales is up and down, I think any manager in that environment should keep in mind long term performance and not just focus on someone who has a couple weeks of good sales. The OP did say they “worked up to” number one meaning that others have been in that spot too. Again, that’s not really OP’s problem, but I don’t think it hurts for her to mention that to the manager.

    2. Colette*

      Sometimes, though, a manager can focus on what one person does well (because they’re paying more attention to that person, or they like them more, or because they understand that person’s job better, or because that person has more high-profile accounts) and miss the good things others are doing that might be more difficult but less visible.

    3. alma*

      Yes and no — I have definitely seen cases where the long-timers are complacent, and get freaked out when a new person comes in and starts kicking ass.

      OTOH, I had a friend who worked at a big box electronic store, and the managers would make a point of praising the top salespeople. The thing is, the top salespeople always came out of departments like computers and home entertainment — never out of kitchen/home appliances or other more “boring” departments. It was frustrating because no matter how much of a sales rockstar you tried to be, refrigerators don’t sell like Playstations. They just don’t. So the praise had a demotivating effect.

      Without knowing OP’s specific workplace I obviously can’t say if that kind of thing is going on, but it’s not always a case of sucky performers being bitter.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I am not saying the OP’s situation is similar. However, we do have a situation at work where the boss is constantly praising the new employee in spite of the rest of us presenting strong evidence to the contrary.
        Joe is the newest and junior most employee in our group. His job is to review the purchase requisitions received from every department at our hospital. The boss has for some reason decided that Joe is so good at his job that he should be the ultimate authority on which requisitions get paid, which ones get rejected. Joe is not required to consult with the boss on anything. The rest of us are finance advisors, each supporting a different department. Joe sends back more than 90% of the requisitions received from our department because he does not understand them. He does not copy the boss on the emails in which he is asking silly questions and expecting us to explain basic accounting concepts to him. The boss is constantly telling everyone ‘Joe is very very good at his job’ and refuses to deal with issues when we point out repeatedly how Joe does not understand basic accounting policies. So Joe gets no training from the boss and the silliness level of his questions continues to grow along with the level of the boss’s praise. In the meantime, a bunch of us have started spending all our after work hours job hunting and our departments wait and wait for their requisitions to be approved.

      2. E.R.*

        This can be true. If the boss can point to specific things that the OP does that gets results, and can be done by the other salespeople to improve their own results, it’s worth discussing publicly. But I’ve often seen cases where salespeople who inherit the top territory, for example, are lauded as being superstars while salespeople in more challenging territories are told to shape up, and they are evenly matched in skill and effort. That can definitely create bitterness, though that should be directed at management and not the “superstar”.

        I’ve also seen (and was once the benefactor) of a boss’ inexplicable preference for one salesperson over another. Sales is such a weird thing – on the one hand you can quantify results, but on the other hand there are so many external factors at play (your clients’ preferences and budgets, the market, how much support you receive from mgmt, last years performance – if indeed your target this year was based on the previous year) that can make or break your sales in a particular quarter. The OP is probably great at her job, and maybe her co-workers are rolling their eyes a bit at the boss’ praise, but they are probably not rolling their eyes at her.

    4. LQ*

      I think excessive amounts of public praise are weird and quite frankly it would encourage me to try to run below the meter the boss was using to praise this person. I don’t want to be publicly lauded so if someone was getting that kind of attention, I’d specifically try to avoid being in their place.

      1. Jamie*

        Like you I don’t love public praise for myself, it makes me uncomfortable. I also tend to find it vaguely insulting because in my head everyone should know how awesome I am so the fact that someone thought it was noteworthy enough to mention offends me. But then I’m a megalomaniac and not typical of a healthy mindset. :)

        The one exception is when someone is running around trying to take or share credit for something I did – then I don’t mind tptb issuing public thanks as I see that as a polite way of making sure the record stays straight.

        However, I’ve learned over my last couple months dealing with people way more intensively than normal that some people really need it. And if it’s warranted and they love it I’ll do it – it’s a huge motivating thing for some. I also have been noisy with tptb about backing up my words with a more tangible show of appreciation ($) for some top performers because I’m happy to thank them publicly, but they also need to be thanked in my language…which involves direct deposit.

        This is a huge YMMV thing – and I’ve seen the need for public praise at all levels.

        1. LQ*

          This is very true. There is someone I’m on the team with now who really I’m pretty sure you could never give her a raise if you just thanked her in every big public venue. It’s great for her. It just doesn’t apply broadly. (And I’m very grateful my boss has been good about not doing it to me and instead giving me really exciting new projects.)

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I like private praise from my boss (if I feel as if it’s genuine — I don’t like being handled), and I don’t like public praise very much at all. I’d rather just have a nice conversation with my boss wherein, if he happens to appreciate something I’ve done, he expresses that (preferably in a direct, low-key manner; maybe I’m weird about praise, but I don’t like to feel condescended to even in private).

          1. LQ*

            But some people don’t see it as condescending at all. Some people see it as a valuable and powerful thing. (I shudder but…it’s true.)

            A problem can come up though when someone who really doesn’t like to receive public praise (it feels condescending, I’m just doing my job, please don’t make people look at me) is in a leadership role and then never gives public praise to an employee who really does highly value it. This employee can feel significantly undervalued (my boss never notices I do a good job) even if that isn’t true at all.

            People. They are always the problem.

        3. LBK*

          I like public praise/recognition as more of a one-off – for everyday thanks or praise for some smaller achievement I’d rather have that in private, but if it’s at a quarterly division meeting or something and I’ve busted my ass for the last month or worked on some special project over the last year that was finally completed, I like those big achievements being recognized in front of others. To me, it shows that my manager understands and appreciates the global impact of what I do/what I’ve done and wants everyone who will be affected by my work to be aware who the credit goes to.

          That sounds more egomaniacal in writing than I intended, but as a person who works very much in the background, it’s often easy to feel overlooked. I’m not out there winning the big $1m contract, but what I do is still important, dammit!

    5. Dan*

      They lost me at sales, which is competitive by nature. Companies are always pushing the sales team to sell more, that’s the whole point of the department. Others have succinctly noted that if you’re not selling the same widgets, it’s not fair to compare you to the next guy. I don’t go to Best Buy to buy a washing machine(!) I go to buy a PS3. Never mind that I rent and don’t buy washing machines anyway, that’s my landlord’s problem.

      In my line of work, my boss can laud Bob’s accomplishments all he wants, but 1) I don’t work on Bob’s team, 2) Bob has different opportunities than I do, and 3) Bob might have done a good job on X project, but I have no idea what Bob did that was above and beyond.

  3. Mister Pickle*

    #2: having once been in a similar situation, I believe I’m with AAM on this: you need to ask your mgmt about your PIP. Be low-key about it: “So whatever became of the PIP you discussed at my last review?” It sounds like there’s a good chance nothing was ever done about it. And if performance has been good since then, there won’t be a lot of motivation for mgmt to rush and make one up.

    BUT: as much as you don’t want to go rocking the boat, do you have a set of goals or other criteria in place against which your performance is measured? At my company we formally compose such goals at least once a year. Your place of business may be different, but the point is that, come evaluation time, you probably don’t want to allow your mgmt to just make stuff up out of thin air. Ie, if you have it written down that you’ll achieve an Adjusted Score of at least 150, and at evaluation time, your Adjusted Score is 160, you don’t have to deal with your mgr possibly saying “well, 160 is pretty good, but we really look towards an Adjusted Score of 175 as minimal performance.”

    1. Colette*

      And if you’re not comfortable asking about the PIP, start a conversation about what your manager would like you to do differently. PIP or not, your manager has concerns about your performance, and there’s no way to address them if you don’t know what they are.

  4. Mister Pickle*

    #4: it depends on where you work and how they do things, but sometimes the trick to avoiding a supervisory role is to preemptively convince mgmt of an important project that you want to work on. For instance, in the computer biz, there’s a constant buzz of “standards” work being done. If you can get the backing to get on the appropriate committee, you’re golden. There are other such opportunities out there if you look.

    Although I have to be honest, it is harder and harder these days to really achieve acclaim by working on solo projects. Given that one *must* work in some kind of supervisory capacity, is there an organizational structure that will allow you to focus on the Good Stuff while minimizing the time you spend on administrative minutiae?

  5. The Cosmic Avenger*

    In some environments it’s hard to “progress” in a career without supervising others. I transitioned from a position supervising 4-5 employees to a more technical role that should have been a lateral move, and I’ve seen the people who have come and gone from that supervisory position (it’s a somewhat high-stress role) be taken more seriously in terms of office hierarchy. I can’t give too much detail, but both positions report directly to the same Director, yet the other has a nicer office and other perks indicating it’s considered more senior. I really don’t care much about that kind of thing, except that my move shouldn’t have set me back in those ways.

    So my advice is to consider carefully whether a move like this might be a setback. That might be something that you’re willing to take. If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t change anything, because my more technical role is less stressful, more flexible, and allows me to spend more time with my family. But I would have given it a lot more careful consideration, and I probably would have tried harder to lead projects in my technical role earlier on.

  6. Sue*

    For #4, I am grateful for this post! I was wondering what the consequences are for not wanting to manage. I don’t see myself managing people either, but I’m thinking I might ultimately have to. Alison mentions that “many” employers don’t have a track for moving up that doesn’t involve managing people. Is it fair to say that’s the case for most employers? Do you pretty much have to manage to move up or even stay at the organization? I wonder if some organizations would actually let someone go eventually if they weren’t willing to manage.

    1. Sans*

      Sue, another non-manager here. I haven’t moved up in terms of promotions, but I have received raises and gone to a senior level position, still as an individual contributor. I’ve had long-term stays at companies (over 10 years) where I was given more responsibility, recognition, etc. And eventually, I’ve moved on, when I wanted a change of pace, a different atmosphere, etc. Think about how you want to move up, if it isn’t up to management. Do you have to do a development plan when you do your annual review? You could include the skills you’d like to acquire to get you where you want to go.

      Heck, if everyone was a a manager, who would they manager?

      1. JM in England*

        Exactly Sans!

        I too don’t want to be a supervisor nor a manager. Decided a long time ago that I’m most effective at the lab bench (my field is scientific) and that my personality is the polar opposite of that required to be a good manager.

        When asked at interviews where I see myself in 5/10 years, I cite the previous paragraph. Also use a military analogy that I’m a better soldier than a general; back this up with “if there are no soldiers, how do you fight your campaigns?”

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I don’t know about “most,” but it’s definitely a problem endemic in my industry, and it leads to very top-heavy organizations. Good junior people get promoted so fast that it’s hard to find more worker bees, and you end up with people who are very good at their jobs, but who have no idea how to manage, placed in charge of a team. It took me a good four or five years to really grow into being a manager. I love it now, but I wish there were a better path for people who are rockstar “doers” but who aren’t good at or aren’t interested in managing.

      I think someone else on AAM recommended the book “First, Break All the Rules,” which is one of the few management books I didn’t find to be fluff mixed with bullshit. The authors make a very strong case for an organization having separate pay tracks for “doers” and “managers” — and a master doer might get paid more than a novice manager (although the highest pay grades overall are for the best and most experienced managers). This forces a good “doer” to think really hard about whether she wants to manage when offered a chance to change tracks, because she actually has to take a pay CUT at first.

      I wish this structure were more common, because as you say, I do think some organizations will cut you if you won’t manage, simply because if you’re going to stay in your role, eventually they can replace you with someone less experienced and cheaper (even though that person’s work product would not equal yours). Others are okay with not everyone becoming a manager eventually, but they *don’t* provide a path for growth and development as a “doer.” I think the organization that does is a rare breed.

      1. Judy*

        There are ones that do have the (in engineering-speak) technical ladder along with the management ladder, with pretty pictures that show a “Chief Engineer” who works alongside the “General Manager”, and “Staff Engineer” alongside “Director” and “Principle Engineer” alongside “Senior Manager”. Except I’ve mostly seen those spots used for what used to be “Manager/Director without reports”, people who have risen so high and aren’t able to handle the level of job that they had been in, and they’re hanging around waiting for retirement. I’ve rarely seen upward movements in the technical ladder, just laterals from the management ladder.

  7. Sans*

    #2 – I could have written this. I’ve worked full-time for 31 years, and I had two management roles after being in the workforce around 10 years. I realized that although there were some aspects I liked, overall I didn’t want to be a manager. I work in a creative field, and once you’re a manager, you’re not being creative anymore. You’re managing creatives, you’re going to meetings, you’re hiring and firing, and you’re playing politics.

    Ugh. I could do it, but I hated it. And so I stopped. I even impressed one employer when interviewing them by being very forthright about why my (then) current title was manager but I was interviewing for a non-mgmt position. I told them I knew my strengths, knew where I could best contribute, and that was as an individual contributer. I was certainly willing to help the manager, train others, etc., but I didn’t want to be the manager.

    And I’ve had a good career for over three decades in a competitive field. Yes, I make less money than if I had pursued management. I’ve also been laid off less, because I’ve seen where middle management gets hit first when they want to cut some staff. And I’m also more sane, because being a manager for the long-term would have pushed me over the edge.

    There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like, what you’re good at, where you can make the best contributions. Own it.

  8. soitgoes*

    #4 is EXACTLY why employers have trouble finding people who can to tasks that don’t necessarily require skill but still need to be done well: whenever someone gets good in a position like that, they’re promoted into a new role. It’s like they can’t justify giving the employee a raise in their current role.

    1. Dan*

      That’s because they look at the “role” as some fixed thing. Did my company hire *me*, or did they hire an entry level analyst? If they hired an entry level analyst, at some point, that’s not me anymore, and I have to go. (After all, entry level is only worth so much.) But if they hired *me*, then when I’m not entry level anymore, it’s time to find “something else” that’s more fitting. Honestly, that doesn’t have to be anything major — just an acknowledgement that I’m not entry level anymore, that I can handle more responsibility, and should get paid like it.

      1. soitgoes*

        I’m talking more about the frequent complaints from employers who can’t find “good people” – they severely undervalue certain roles because theoretically anyone could do the work, but it ends up being very hard to find someone who can do it well, and at the salary being advertised. That’s how you end up with B-grade people in roles that are crucial but not technically specialized.

        1. LBK*

          I think that’s the nature of entry-level positions, though. Unless you’re going to wildly overpay just to keep people there, very few people want to spend their entire career at the bottom of the totem pole, even if it’s just moving to a senior individual contributor level or something more specialized.

          1. soitgoes*

            Then employers need to acknowledge the hypocrisy of expecting top-tier work from people earning an entry level wage.

            I’m frankly surprised at the number of people justifying the common practice of promoting people out of roles as soon as they get good at them, and then wondering why they have trouble filling it with someone equally as good.

    2. LBK*

      There’s a limit to how much it makes sense to pay someone in a given role, though. Even if you’re the best admin assistant in the whole world, I’m not going to just keep giving you raises until you’re at 3 times market value or something like that – eventually you have to move to a higher position that will justify your cost.

      1. Jamie*

        Absolutely. But I do know people who are happy in those kind of roles and understand the downside is hitting a pay cap where the only raises you’ll get are COLAS.

        It’s where people resent it and want more money because they are good and been there X number of years there is a disconnect. But it’s a trade off – job you like and not being required to move up or out and they need to decide if it’s worth it to them. Just like in many IT jobs the tradeoff for the benefits is being on call for emergencies and your time is often not your own. For some that’s a deal breaker and it’s not the position for them – we all have different priorities.

        1. LBK*

          Oh yeah, I agree that there are people who are happy where they are – and I don’t think anyone should force themselves to take a role they don’t want because their current job’s paycheck has plateaued. I could make twice as much if I moved to sales, but I have zero interest in selling anything so I accept the tradeoff on my salary. I think that disconnect is pretty common, though – many people don’t accept the tradeoff or don’t think they should have to make it.

          1. Jamie*

            It’s absolutely common – although I’ve never understood why. In a well managed company how well one does their job determines what end of the pay range they are on for their position. But what that range is depends on the market for that position in that region and scarcity or surplus of candidates with the required skill set. (along with factors such as negotiation tactics upon hire, etc – but that’s still range dependent.)

            If you want to leap pay ranges you need to be willing to develop other needed skills to expand position, manage, or change positions. If people don’t want to do that it’s totally cool, but why they don’t understand they are making that trade off of their own volition is beyond me.

            Great AAs are so under appreciated and often (imo) underpaid for the value they bring to the organization. But you wouldn’t expect the new CFO to come in making less than a great admin who has been there for 10 years – because the value of the position is inherently greater. People get this confused with people being of greater or lesser value and that’s never true. Positions have greater or lesser value, but that is distinct from the people who hold them who all have equal value as human beings.

            I know we agree – just opining. :)

            (If I moved to sales not only would I take a huge pay cut, but it would be a toss up on whether my family starved to death before or after I was fired. Sales is one of those positions I kind of look at in awe because it’s so outside my skill set and comfort zone I think the people who do well in that line of work must be employing witchcraft.)

            1. LBK*

              Positions have greater or lesser value, but that is distinct from the people who hold them who all have equal value as human beings.

              Yes! Agreed. People equate the amount they get paid in a role with how much they are valued as a person, not how much that role is valued in the organization. It’s why I scratch my head sometimes when I see people raging over finding out how much a CEO makes when the lowest level employees are making minimum wage. While I certainly agree that there’s a disparity to an extent and that some CEOs are overpaid/lower level workers are underpaid, I would certainly hope the CEO is making a considerable amount more than a cashier – they have a hell of a lot more responsibility, visibility, accountability, etc.

              (If I moved to sales not only would I take a huge pay cut, but it would be a toss up on whether my family starved to death before or after I was fired. Sales is one of those positions I kind of look at in awe because it’s so outside my skill set and comfort zone I think the people who do well in that line of work must be employing witchcraft.)

              Preaching to the choir. It’s one of those things where I can kind of watch other people do it and get what they’re doing, but I can never bring myself to do the same. The words just don’t come out of my mouth the right way.

            2. soitgoes*

              It goes both ways though – Allison routinely answers questions from employers about how to attract good candidates for those entry-level roles. The whole point is that the ideal candidates aren’t applying. It might be “entry level” work, but it needs to be done by someone who’s not entry level anymore. No one wants to pay for the skill set, but they also can’t understand why they can’t draw better people into interviews.

  9. nyxalinth*

    #3 You’re one of the good recruiters. Thank yhou for that. some of the frustrated clients might be coming from where they’ve dealt with the bad ones from bad agencies, and that is always frustrating. It sounds like you really want to do your best for them while still doing what’s right for the agency and the client, and that’s great. Alison is right though, and if you’re getting orders for people to make Interociters and all the people you have on hand are chocolate teapot makers, then hey need to understand that you can’t shove square pegs into round holes.

  10. Serin*

    #4: Oh, man, I once worked for a woman who was rewarded for being a fantastic writer/copyeditor by being made a supervisor. She was the worst boss imaginable. She was damaging.

    I have tremendous respect for anyone who recognizes they’d be bad at management and turns it down. (Terrible Boss was able to say no to driving a car because she recognized she couldn’t do it well, but somehow she couldn’t say no to being a supervisor.)

  11. Jamie*

    I am dealing with the making someone a supervisor because they were great in a totally different role thing from the other side right now.

    Frustration on all sides because they are just not leading the way they need to, but I’ve been hammering their manager with the question of what was done to help them get the skills? This person wanted to manage, the motivation is there, but you can’t just give someone authority and responsibility and put them in charge of a late night shift where there are no other managers to help or learn from and expect them to know how to do it properly.

    When talking about lower level positions – moving from operator on floor to shift supervisor, how can you expect someone to pick up that baton with no otj training or even discussions about expectations and how to lead? Not everyone is a natural when it comes to managing. I sure had a lot to learn in the beginning, but I was helped by the natural inclination to take charge if I have to – a lot of people wait until they officially have the power to start managing stuff where I just started fixing issues and assumed someone would tell me when I overstepped my bounds. Still waiting on that conversation.

    I’ve just seen promotions to management from non-managerial positions be a nightmare transition far more often than not.

    Personally I’ll manage systems and processes and people as they relate to those things all day long…but managing people themselves is a freaking nightmare. I’ve been elbow deep in it for the last couple of months and couldn’t be happier to escape – I don’t know how you all do it.

    1. LBK*

      If transitioning into management were a natural thing that people could do easily without training, Alison would probably be out of a job. I agree – it’s totally baffling that people promote those with no management experience and just expect them to know how to do it well overnight. People forget it’s a skill like anything else.

    2. Dan*

      I was wondering why you’ve been so quiet lately. One of my coworkers is being courted for a management role outside the company. He’s most likely going to turn it down, ’cause he doesn’t want to manage 30 people. No shame in that.

      But my real all time favorite in my line of work is the “project lead” role where the lead isn’t management (the lead is never management). He has the responsibility for make sure the project is executed properly, but has no authority. He is told who his staff is, and can’t get rid of them. He’s also told when he has to “cover” people with work he may not have, chewing up his budget. (And then being told he ran over budget or under delivered.)

      That’s the kind of “promotion” technical staff get if they don’t want to be management. Sign me up.

      1. Jamie*

        Turns out working with people is a real time suck – you have to make eye contact, pay attention, you have to do stuff when they are there and not at 11:00 pm when you feel like working. People are exhausting.

        I am with you on the project lead stuff. I’ve done more than my share of that and I love that. Your managing the thing but coordinating people. But if you’re good at it someone above you utters the dreaded words, “so why aren’t you holding employe Y accountable?” and you know you’re about to go down a rabbit hole without a map.

        1. Dan*

          I have a map, but I can’t have a flashlight, because that’s overhead money, and you know, we can’t have you spending that.

  12. Dan*

    The flip side to the assumption that good widget makers being good widget maker supervisors is “have you ever seen a crappy widget maker and think, hey, he sucks at his job, but he’d be a good manager?” Anybody who promoted that guy would be lynched by other members of the team. “Hey I show up to work on time, get good reviews, do my job well, and *this* jack ass gets promoted? I’m quitting.”

    1. LBK*

      I guess I don’t really understand your point. Maybe your experience has been different but I think it’s far more common to promote a top performer with the assumption that they’ll be a great manager than to do that for a low performer, because the basics of being a good employee in general are still the same – motivation, autonomy, perception, positivity, communication, etc. Most low performers aren’t even going to showcase those skills, never mind those plus the additional skills you need to be a manager.

      1. Jamie*

        I think I understand what Dan is saying. If you have someone who may be a great manager but isn’t a good performer in their current role it’s likely promoting them, even if it makes sense, will hurt morale. Because people do tend to resent people who aren’t skilled at making widgets put in charge of widget makers.

        At least that’s how it would tend to work in manufacturing on the floor. Technical departments – it depends on the people involved. If the individual contributors are secure in how they are valued they are sometimes happy to send the person less technically skilled but with other softer managerial skills into the management den to slay dragons for them. But then quite often those individual performers will be out earning their manager by a fair margin. When promotions automatically equal “more money than me” there can be resentment of that being offered to those who were less successful in the harder skills. Managing does take a very specific skill set, but good communication and rapport building etc. isn’t always valued as highly by people who have harder skills. A min wage widget maker and a technical employee pulling in 6 figures have one thing in common – their results are measurable. The widget is either to standard or it’s not. The network is either functioning properly or it’s not. The engineering drawing is either to spec or it’s not. It can be hard for some people to have the same respect for softer skills and they sure as hell don’t want to report to someone they feel is beneath them skill wise.

        1. LBK*

          Okay, that makes sense – that someone might not have the technical skills to excel in a very cut-and-dry job based on accomplishing a task a specific way, but they have the people skills to excel in management. I guess I see technical skills and people skills overlap more often than not – so that it’s rare someone who I think has good management qualities isn’t also an overall great employee – but I can imagine it happening.

        2. Dan*

          Yup. The amusing thing for entry level employees is when you get your first job where you realize your boss has no idea how to *do* your job, only that you’ve done it well.

          At one job I had, we had a big-shot VP visit and decide he was going to “help out.” He gummed things up. I went to the Assistant GM and said, “Hey, can you tell the VP he’s f’ing things up?” The GM looks at me and says, “I can’t tell a VP that. He’ll be gone at the end of the week. Can you manage? I said, “I didn’t think you could say that, but it was worth asking right? That said, I’ll suck it up.”

        3. Sans*

          It makes sense. I’m a marketing copywriter. My bosses over the years sometimes have writing skills, sometimes they don’t. And when they have been writers, I can only think of one instance where they had equal or better writing skills than me. And that’s fine – because they understood marketing, understood the creative process, and obviously had better management skills.

      2. Dan*

        Most certainly. Jamie understands my point, and that for as much as we “complain” about the assumption that a good “doer” automatically makes for a good “manager”, well, we can’t select a manager from those who weren’t good doers. You articulate the reasons well — plenty of other soft skill issues are going to hamper that.

        So, we don’t have much of a choice in who we select to be management. You have to be good at your job to move up, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

        1. LBK*

          You have to be good at your job to move up, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

          I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t be good at your job in order to move up, just that ONLY being good at your current job isn’t enough to ensure you’ll be a good manager, which is an extremely common assumption made when promoting someone to a manager for the first time.

        2. LBK*

          Oh, never mind, I see you addressed that. I guess I’ve just never seen your scenario play out in real life – a low performer getting promoted over a high performer – so it’s hard for me to wrap my head around it.

    2. SusieQ*

      I think that’s the problem. In so many places managers are created by promotions as a reward for excellent performance rather than from selecting someone who is truly a good fit for manager.

  13. HR Manager*

    #4 – Kudos to you for recognizing that management may not be your calling. All to often, I see employees who are not cut out for being managers want that title just because it is the recognition of hard work, and of course it may mean more pay. If you are comfortable with your manager, I would sit down and have an honest discussion that you may not think management is right for you. Do you know why you don’t enjoy it? Perhaps the manager can offer coaching and development in certain areas that might surprise you? At the very least, I would be honest with the manager and ask outright if this might be a career-limiting choice, if you opt not to take on supervisory responsibilities.

    #3 – Agree with Alison. Perhaps the temp candidates don’t understand how temp assignments work? Employers call in with certain needs and requirements (and often budget). A candidate may not be placed because 1) no assignments match his/her skill set 2) candidates’ salary rate requirements are not a match 3) candidate’s requirements and rate match, but employer doesn’t want the candidate.

  14. Lisa*

    #4 – I have a diff thing that seems to be for higher level jobs in my industry. I want to manage, but I have no interest in sales or RFPs. I hate them with a passion. I want to do work, not sell work. You would think that this would be only asking for input, but it always turns into ‘can you make a 30 page deck by tomorrow?’ ugh no. It always is where the biz dev people knew about the meeting for 3 months, then called the specialists in the day before the presentation. It happens so often that I dread it, and it makes me hate doing slides because they end up not being used but I get to waste time building them, and they wonder why I didn’t get to my actual work. I want to be a manager, I do not want to do biz dev. These biz dev guys end up not being able to speak to the specialized decks too, so I end up with half a day gone to go to a meeting that often won’t become a client for one reason or another to speak for 2 min, because the convo is skewed to diff discipline every sales meeting no matter who the potential client is. Or another fun one, is biz dev making up stuff that we do, create a deck that is just wrong or even lies about my industry, but I am tasked with presenting this deck as if it is true, when I was pulled in last minute and don’t even see the deck until I am in the car on the way to the meeting. All of these things has made me hate doing RFPs / sales, but everyone above my level is doing some version of it.

  15. Mister Pickle*

    #4: somebody’s got to say it, it might as well be me:

    The Peter Principle is a concept in management theory in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in his or her current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.”

  16. Lizzy*

    I have been the frustrated temp in number 3, but also having temped for reception in the office of one of my staffing agencies, I can attest that recruiters are trying their best and that some candidates are impossible to please.

    In defense of the temps/candidates – Often, I run into staffing agencies who lack upfront transparency. If you tend to staff for specific positions (like Executive Assistants), industry-specific skills, etc — tell the candidates during the interview process, especially if the candidate is looking for or qualified for positions you deal with less frequently. I ran into this a lot and was just recently informed that many of the agencies in my area don’t get as many marketing positions or positions I would be qualified for; I just wish I was told this upfront.

    In defense of the recruiter – As mentioned above, some staffing agencies deal with more specific positions or industries than others, so there is only so much they can do. And as Alison pointed out that they need to find the right fit for their paying clients first; candidates are the goods, not the client (as awful as that sounds). And the staffing industry only statistically fills something like 10% of open positions, so you shouldn’t expect them to be your main source for job hunting. Plus, I can attest that some candidates are so pushy, abrasive and off-putting –like calling the office multiple times a day and getting angry because a recruiter can’t fulfill their demands on the spot–that I don’t blame recruiters for not wanting to place them.

    So to the OP: try to address the needs of some candidates and explain to them why it is taking longer than desired. If you openly communicate with them, they can get a better understanding of what is going on and that you can only do so much for them. For instance, I checked in with a staffing agency for 4 months and they didn’t give me a single assignment or interview…yet I gave them a glowing review on Yelp. Why? The recruiters spoke with me on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, were prompt with answering questions and told me upfront why I wasn’t getting anything: they were mostly getting positions for legal secretaries, and admin assistants for real estate and financial firms. That being said, the pushy, abrasive candidates aren’t often worth the effort and will never be easy to please. They also aren’t worth harming your reputation with paying clients.

  17. number_1*


    I’m the asker of #1 . I’ll clarify some things that have been brought up. My company is a third party whole seller of various products to industries like manufacturing plants, warehouses, distribution centers, etc. When I came on board, they redrew the territory lines and shifted clients around to various sales people. Needless to say, some sales people gained clients, while others lost some very lucrative accounts. I was the primary beneficiary to some of the large accounts that got shifted over.

    I get along very well with my other coworkers. There’s only 4 others on the sales team. However, maybe it’s just a reflection on me and the way I think, but if I lost some of my clients to someone new, I’d be mad. And then to have your manager rub it in your face that the new person is doing better than you based off of having some of your good, old clients would make me even more angry.

    No one has ever said anything to my knowledge about how things are, so maybe I’m just feeling insecure.

    I’m not riding coat tails. I work harder than any of the other sales people there. It’s just that my boss lets them know that and always puts my numbers up on the weekly sales meeting powerpoint to show the others how well the “new guy” is doing compared to them.

    I would just like to blend in the background and do my job well and not have it rubbed into other peoples’ faces.

  18. Helena*

    Re: Doers vs managers.

    I’m pondering this question myself right now. I’m decent at my job and a lot of people would like to see me move ‘up’, but I’m really not sure about it. As Jamie said, I can manage systems and processes, but I really don’t know about people. For those of you who speak MBTI, I’m an INTJ currently being managed by an ENTJ, and I think that works incredibly well- we will geek out about the exciting new process changes together, then I’ll go back to my data and she will go off to proactively arrange feedback meetings with her large team/ schmooze an external contact. I could easily do a third of her job (the technical/ policy side, rather than the people and the budgets and the health and safety meetings and the politics…)- It’s just that I find dealing with people incredibly draining and I don’t think I’d *like* it.

    I have my eye on a few ‘doer’ paths for progression, but I do sometimes second guess myself- what if good management is something you learn by doing? What is everyone feels like this at first? What if it’s *good* to feel like this- maybe the fact that I’m worried about being a bad manager means that I’d be extra alert and so I’d do better than people who never think about this stuff? (Most of the Really Bad Managers I’ve had could not have cared less about this side at all.) Maybe it’s not as bad as all that-if I can put good plans together and schedule technical work for people and give feedback when I have to maybe it doesn’t matter than I’m not a ‘natural’ people person? (And I’m not an ogre- I’m perfectly pleasant and polite, I just need to decompress at the end of the day!)

    Sigh… This is the definition of Overthinking It!

    1. Jamie*

      Can you get your feet wet before committing? Covering for a manager on leave, or for interns for a finite period? And some managerial jobs have you managing people only as it relates to certain systems or projects and lemme tell ya – that’s the sweet spot right there.

      I speak MTBI and I’m jealous – that’s a sweet pairing. As a fellow INTJ I had a hard time the last couple of months going from about 85% alone in my office 15% people work to 90%+ really interactive people work (a lot of people) and then the rest of my job done on nights and weekends. I found myself being annoyed with my family for asking how my day was because the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone when I got home. But I was surprised I managed as well as I did with the actual people intensive stuff on the job.

      Until yesterday. Back to my 85/15 as of yesterday and I’m just annoyed but I kind of hate everyone who sticks their head in my door to tell me something. Started yesterday and today …let’s just say I’m trying to figure out how to pull a JD Salinger for the rest of my life and still make a living.

      It’s like I didn’t realize how completely my butt was kicked until the dragon was slain and I’m sitting here in the aftermath licking my wounds and assessing the damage. I know to people who don’t get it it sounds crazy and entitled and like I think I’m the most special of all the snowflakes, but I felt more lively and like myself after recovering from major surgery.

      Fwiw I think you sound awesome.

      1. Helena*

        :D Thank you! So do you!

        Yes, if I had to choose a management setup I’d be coordinating people while they do ‘stuff’, being quite hands off, just guiding the performance of high performers. But looking at the people I work for now, they have this amazing ability to get the best out of people and they know just what to do with low performers, they’re thinking about the career goals of 30+ people, they’re juggling different political factions. And that… sounds very hard indeed! I’ve done some Team Lead work with high performers, but it’s when people need a lot more input that I struggle. But then, who says everything has to come naturally all at once? It’s not necessarily going to be easy.

        Ouch, that sounds like a total nightmare and I know what you mean about sounding overly precious. The best analogy I’ve come up with is if you’ve been up for two days straight working on something, you’re juuust falling asleep, and someone keeps waking you up asking you things. No matter how much you like them, it’s hard to handle!

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