Friday, August 23, 2013

Is This The End ?

A little over a month ago, my manager asked for my input on an idea she was considering.  It involved me and a change in work priorities, including a change in team members that would be reporting directly to me.  After a little thought, I saw the benefits of what she was suggesting (benefits for myself, her, the company, the employees involved, etc.) and answered that I would support the changes if they went that way.  She promised to get back with me when a final decision was made.  Off I went, thinking little of it as I went about my regular responsibilities.

Fast forward to a few days ago when she called me into her office.  In a brief conversation, she outlined for me the schedule to actually implement the change we had previously discussed.  It is still a good idea, but it filled me with a very melancholy mindset.

On the plus side, this change will be a great developmental opportunity for me.  I will get the chance to demonstrate my organizational and leadership skills in a way I have not been able to do for many years.  I will learn new skills related to managing a larger team and a process that impacts our business on a much broader scale.  I will have the chance to improve upon things that are already going well, teaching and learning from many different and very smart people.

But ...

On the I'm going to miss this side ... I have many strong relationships with several employees who will no longer be working with me directly.  And they did not choose to have this change happen.  They did not get to share their input and agree to working with a new manager or supervisor.  And I feel some level of guilt or remorse for what seems like an abrupt end to a long-term (for many of them anyway) relationship.  Yes, they will benefit from coaching that is presented in a different style than mine.  Sure, this may help them make improvements that we struggled to make while working together.  But ... they didn't ask for this change, so I feel like I am just dropping them and leaving them to figure things out on their own.

I communicated this change today in our team meeting.  It takes effect on 9/1, so we basically have about a week to "say goodbye."  The reactions from the team were varied, with many I could never have predicted.  Some people are likely relieved (there are a few who may feel I have been unfair ... I am half glad that they will realize it wasn't me being unfair, but rather their poor performance - but I am also sad that their feeling of relief will be short lived).  Some people were a mixture of sad or angry.  Some misunderstood and wished me congratulations, as though I had been promoted.

I myself have not been able to really process how I feel about the change because I have been (and will continue to be) focused on the reactions of those impacted by this change.  I cannot win on all fronts (it's unrealistic to think my relationships will not change basd on this change), but I think my main hope is that my direct reports do not feel abandoned.  To ensure this goal is achieved, I plan to spend the next week almost exclusively with those team members who will be reporting somewhere else as of 9/1.  At the very least, I hope this allows me to find some closure and feel good about their future.

Song Of The Day:
Likely to be lost amidst this lengthy, and very personal, post is an amazing song.  The Boston University Bos-Tones sing about a "Comfortable" relationship between a man and a woman.  While this is not at all the kind of love I have toward my team members, the feelings of missing that comfortable relationship do a great job to capture my emotions around this change.  Despite knowing it is a good change, I think I will long for the comfort within our team for months or even years to come.


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