I started out this class being under-appreciated by my manager, overworked, and stressed out. My teams were in a constant state of emergency. On top of this, my manager would give me additional projects that would achieve his own performance success metrics – such as building reports that he would take to his own manager—but that would not directly contribute to the success of my team or their ability to have some semblance of work/life balance.
I ended 2020 with a mental breakdown, and early in 2021 have had 2 team members take emergency PTO due to their own mental breakdowns and have averted another 3 employees from having breakdowns who were beginning to show the symptoms of burnout and exhaustion.
Speaking to my manager about these situations, as well as having any conversation where I am answering a ‘why’ question, leads to dismissed responses (not acceptable) and rabbit-hole conversations. It is exhausting.
Enter CAL II
My leadership journey through this class has taken 4 steps: identifying ways to better describe myself, figuring out who my manager’s authentic self is, figuring out why we don’t connect, and then strategizing action items that may not solve the situation but may help me work with the situation or find other options to move forward with.
Who am i?
While I am very self-aware, through the class I have been able to better describe myself with more detail. I learned I am introverted, have heavily right-brained usage in decision-making, and concerned about the community. My values are mentorship and alignment. I also learned that my Saboteurs are Hyper-Achiever and Hyper-Rationalization, and I can be a bit of a controller.
Who is my manager?
Through the class I have been able to start identifying who my manager is, which helped me understand him better. He is left-brained decision-making, where people are not part of the equation other than as resource counts and output. His values do not coincide with my values, and he believes in delegation down of his deliverables—his personal goals become our projects on top of our work managing multiple teams. No wonder we don’t work well together!
Learning what doesn’t work
After CAL II, I have learned to stop hyper-achieving—trying to meet both my core values and those of my manager. This leads to mental breakdown and self-denial of who I am.
I will also stop trying to get my manager to understand me. He will engage on a personal level to check off a checkbox (“How was your weekend?”) but when he returns to being 2-Dimensional & impersonal, then he is not really interested in making an effort to get to know me and my leadership style.
I will stop explaining (hyper-rationalization)—it’s not successful. My story and those of my team, the ‘why’ and ‘how’ answers, are human stories and since it is not in metric form it does not work.
I will stop just pulling data—it lands better initially but leads to additional issues. I find it frustrating that the human impact on metrics, or nuances of the story behind them, are ignored, which simplifies the metrics to ‘good metrics’ and ‘bad metrics’ and I am asked to agree when the metrics are bad. This violates a number of my values, especially when the metrics aren’t actually bad numbers when looking at the bigger story behind the numbers.
What can I do going forward
I have decided to choose what I can control and accept what I can’t. I work from priorities and will not take on my manager’s special projects where I can avoid them which will not move me forward in my career at this company. I am trading a lack of career growth opportunity to spend the time I’ve taken back to work on technical skills growth that will move me to a higher position in another company if I choose to move on.
And I continue to do what I can to remove roadblocks and set the right priorities for my team members while training them to set appropriate boundaries so that they also are empowered to control what they can and better manage what they cannot. My team has consistently expressed gratefulness for my management style and understanding.
For now, knowing their work lives are better because of my efforts is the biggest ROI I can ask for.