Managing Other People is HARD

by Ginger on September 29, 2011

in The 9-5

Work has been running me through the ringer lately. My role has expanded, so my workload has expanded, while our publishing program is expanding and all this expanding seems to be causing my head to explode from the stress. My task list is so long that I’ve had to stop looking at the whole thing lest I cry on a daily basis. On top of that, I’m really feeling the strain of my management duties, for the first time since I started managing.

See, when I started my job, I was given management responsibilities for the first time in my career. I had one person who reported to me, and I was tasked with managing her workload, her career path within the company and her professional output. I took my role as a manager very seriously–I have been blessed with some amazing managers in my career, and I know how much a good boss can make or break your experience at a job, not to mention your development in you career as a big picture–and spent a lot of time making sure that I put my absolute BEST into that part of my job.

Today, I manage two departments consisting of 3 full time employees and 3 part time contractors. I like to think that I’ve been given this responsibility in part because of the way I’ve approached managing, and the seriousness with which I take that part of my job.

But here’s what no one tells you about being a manager in the corporate world. It’s sometimes freaking hard work if you’re doing it right. It’s time consuming. You have to deal with a lot of paperwork. You have to deal with red tape. You have to deal with corporate beauracracy. You have to deal with org charts and performance reviews and time off requests and HR and payroll and RULES. That alone can be exhausting.

Then you add in the actual people you manage. Managing one person was a cakewalk compared to what I do now. Now I have different personalities, who respond to different things different ways. The tactics I’ve used for 3 years with one direct report don’t work at all with another. There are different expectations from different people. There are challenges that are new and difficult and I find myself tripping over my role in ways I haven’t before. And it’s wearing on me, because if I’m honest, I feel like I’m not doing it right a lot of the time. The learning curve seems steeper now, but if anything, the stakes are higher.

I wasn’t prepared for how hard managing would be. I think when you enter the working world, you look at your boss and you think about how lucky they are…I mean, they have someone to do all the grunt work (you) while they get to do the big projects and get all the glory. But managing people, while doing those big (and small) projects is hard. It’s not a way to pass the work around, it’s about managing the workflow for your group. It’s about making sure that your people are getting results and getting acknowledgement for that work. It’s about making sure that resources are being allocated correctly. I feel like I have a responsibility to the company to get the best of my team. I also feel like I have a responsibility to each member of my team to lead them well and to GIVE THEM the tools, accolades, feedback, and structure they need and deserve. It takes a lot more time and energy than it might seem to be a decent manager. I want to be a GOOD manager, so I work at it.

But it’s freaking exhausting some days.

Some days, I just want to sit down, do my job and not worry about anyone else.

Some days, I just want to think about my own projects, not someone else’s.

Some days, I just want to worry about my performance, not someone else’s.

All I can do on those days is take a deep breath, spend a few minutes tapping out a blog post that gets my feelings off my chest…and then go back to doing my damn job.

After all, I have a team that relies on me now.



shasta September 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Worst part about being a manager: there’s always something that your subordinates are pissed at you about. That’s hard to learn to live with.

Ginger September 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

ESPECIALLY when it’s something out of your control. Or something you have to enforce even if you don’t want to.

Michelle September 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

It is so hard managing others. I did it for awhile at Starbucks as a supervisor, and sometimes I just felt I was babysitting – for less an hour that what I would have made actually babysitting.

After awhile, I learned to just let their anger at me roll of my back. The biggest problem I had? Managing adolescent boys who weren’t used to taking “orders” from women. It was really hard to get those boys to take me seriously when I told them to do something.

You’ll find your stride, and it will get easier. At least, it did for me.

clara October 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

My god that sounds exhausting. I have nothing but awe for people who manage other people well, and I bet you’re doing better than you think, because you’re fretting about it.

Also, you need a vacation. Just saying.

Tara October 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Oh, man, I feel like you just wrote out everything that I’ve been thinking for the last couple of months. My old team inherited a group of five new associates during a company wide reorganization at the start of the year, and I was promoted to my first management position, in charge of integrating this group into their new roles (which is basically my old role). So, not only am I learning how to be a manager on the fly, but I’m trying to train all of these people in new responsibilities, as well. And I still have some of my old responsibilities, too. Basically, my customer portfolio has quadrupled, because I am responsible for everything that crosses my group.

And there’s always a problem that needs my response. And after a day of dealing with people who need me to solve a steady stream of issues for them (not that I blame them, because it’s tough to pick up a new job as quickly as they’ve been asked to pick this job up, and I did it for three years, so I’ve already pretty much dealt with everything that needs to be dealt with at some point in my time), I come home and spend my evening as the anything and everything to my (mostly) sweet two-year old. And then, after all of that, if my poor husband asks me to make a decision on anything, I lose my mind. Because I’m tired of making decisions all of the time! And then I feel terrible.

I am very unbalanced right now, and I just don’t know how to get re-balanced, you know? It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by everything…not that I like to see other people overwhelmed, but, uh…misery loves company, I guess?

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