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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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One of the bitches of being a manager is the requirement to be beyond reproach. As part of maintaining the necessary aloofness, I feel one has to set an example for their subordinates. I think I am still of the (old school, perhaps) opinion that managers should be working at least as hard as their employees. This does not mean that they have to work longer, or even the same, hours. However, I feel like any situation where a manager is setting a precedent of not working at least as hard as their employees is just going to be amplified as it propagates through the ranks. For those who have enough fortitude to not let their work ethic be compromised, this situation still creates resentment for a manager, and therefore serves to create resentment for the company since they put that manager in place as one’s superior(One that surpasses another in rank or quality).

As an example, there have been times I have had to get up at 23:00, and work straight through till 19:00 the following night, or when I have had to be up numerous times through the night, and had to be at work the next day at 06:00 to cover early trading staff. Similarly, there have been days where I started at 06:00 in the “early shift” and ended up being at work supporting issues until well after the “late shift” finished. So, when an email comes from a manager that suggests their flight was really late last night and therefore they are going to be in rather late, suck it up comes to mind.

Last time I took a sick day, it was pretty much a waste. Since there were production issues going on, we’re under-staffed, and there is a lot of momentum to get new releases out, I still spent over ten hours logged in from home working on work 100% of the time. The only difference from being at work is that my coworkers and clients pestered me via the phone, chat, and email, and Loki played surrogate for the in-person interaction. Don’t get me wrong, having my cat around is much more pleasant than most of my coworkers, but the end result is that “working from home” was not much of an opportunity for me to recuperate on my “sick day.” So, when a manager decides to “work from home” yet is not responding to emails, is not on chat, is not answering the phone, and says the next day that things were tough because there are too many distractions at home, suck it up comes to mind.

Everybody has deadlines to meet; when something is behind schedule but it still needs to get done on time, or there is a problem that cannot wait to be solved, I find a way to get it done, even if it means working past my bedtime. So when a manager does not have time for a weekly personnel meeting, or reschedules a performance appraisals because they “have too much work to do and are behind schedule, if they have any hopes of getting home to see their family by 5” then they can suck it up. And on that note, allow me to contradict what I said earlier about not working longer than one’s subordinates…

The point of all of these hypothetical scenarios is not to complain so much as to hash out some of my feelings on what makes a manager weaker. I feel like there are certain responsibilities that come with management, and leading by example is one of the big ones. This is, to me, even truer when one takes the approach of “hands off” management where they don’t get dirty with the day-to-day din of things and the technical aspects of the projects their subordinates manage. In these cases, it is imperative to remain aloof and set an ever-higher watermark for excellence. Being “one of the guys” that complains about the same problems that their subordinates have as some sort of faux “transparency” is not endearing; it is the breeding grounds for loss of respect and resentment.

Of course, maybe my leadership ideal is too traditional, and I need to get up to speed with the current organizational behavior recommendations. Then again, maybe it’s just too idealistic. Is the point at the end of the day that ultimately managers are only human, just like the rest of us?