This XOJane article, Unpopular Opinion: Your boss doesn’t owe you a ‘fun’ job by Julie Gross really struck a chord with me.
I like that it reinforced my current takes – which might sound a bit harsh – on some team and management topics. These are topics where I’ve previously taken on what I now see as too much extra stuff in managing my team:
- you owe your team clear direction, objectives, one-to-ones, performance reviews and development opportunities
- it is not your responsibility to make them happy or interested in their work, that’s up to them
- everyone will have to do work that they don’t like at times, sometimes a lot of the time
- it’s lovely when people develop, but they will make big shifts in their own time, not yours
I liked that Grosse explains how she would do basically anything to keep the show on the road, that lots of that would be invisible to her team, and that she is sometimes the only person who knows how to do it. I like the mix of pitching in and not feeling tasks are below you, dealing with senior people/politics so your team can get on with delivery, and a reminder that yes, there is a reason someone is the boss.
One part of it didn’t work for me. That’s when Grosse talks about more junior people doing ‘all the crap that right now, at this very moment, you don’t want to do.’ A more positive take would be the best piece of management advice I ever got, from the mighty Kathy Settle, Director of Digital Policy and Departmental Engagement at the Government Digital Service. She told me that when there was too much to do (ie always), I should make sure I was doing the thing that was most important at that moment, and that only I could do. Implication: other people in the team should spend time doing stuff they can, and that is less important for you to spend your time doing. Not necessarily the most exciting work, but not crap either. I use that now when I’m too busy. I ask myself what’s the most important thing, and what’s the thing only I can do. It’s so helpful. Thanks Kathy!