Manager for a Day

It’s easy to look at how hard our jobs are and think about how easy the boss has it. But is that reality?

It would be great to be the boss, wouldn’t it? After all, the boss doesn’t have to work nearly as hard as you do each day. Just last week when you walked into their cube they were just sitting there, staring at the screen, not doing anything. The next time you went back to their desk they were plugged into their headphones doing a CBT. Must be nice not to have anything better to do than sit at your desk relaxing all day and then doing a CBT so that everybody will think you’re busy. All of this while the rest of us are out here doing the real work, the heavy lifting.  Yeah, the life of the manager is all gravy.

Now, cut to the same day. This time, you’re the manager. It’s time for your slice of the pie. It’s all gravy, right?


That can’t be right can it? Oh jeez, I’m already 5 minutes late. Stupid bridge traffic! Why does this happen to me on today of all days? The day of the big meeting. I was up until 1 AM last night working on this stupid presentation that the director dumped on my desk at the last minute yesterday. I’ve been trying to make a name for myself and show them that I’ve got what it takes, but now what? I’m already 5 minutes late. Sure I called ahead, but that’s not good enough. I really blew it.

It’s my husband’s fault really. When he got up this morning he forgot to reset the alarm. Then I had to change clothes after I was already ready because my dog jumped on me when he was coming back in from using the bathroom. I wanted a Yorkie, but he had to have a German Shepard. It’s so frustrating, this was my first real shot to make a good impression, now I’m going to have to work extra hard to earn my next shot.


I just finished my presentation. I’m so frustrated! I was up all night working on that thing and what do I get? Do I get a thank you? An atta-girl? Of course not. I get 5 minutes to share my findings and then get the pleasure of hearing the boss negate everything I just said and make his own suggestion. Like I needed tire tracks on this suit. *sigh* I better get moving, it’s going to take 10 minutes to get to my building and I’m already late for my first MBO of the day.


Sheesh, I’m glad that’s over. I don’t know why my employees never come prepared to these meetings. I’m going to have to mention it in the next staff meeting. Today’s is a classic example. I start the meeting off giving the employee an idea of how they are doing, I don’t want to commit to anything, because they might hold it against me if the number changes when we get to review time, but I do want to give them a sense for it so they aren’t surprised. Then I had to give some feedback because the other manager on the floor told me that he has been spotting this employee up at his people’s desks in the afternoon distracting them from their work. I hate giving feedback. I get so nervous; it feels like my arms are shaking. It really makes me want to avoid giving feedback unless I really have to. Then, after listening to the employee make excuses for the behavior I ask if there is anything they’d like to talk about and the answer is always “no”. Don’t they understand that I can help them with advice if they just take the initiative? I guess they are satisfied with where they are, it’s a shame too, because I see so much potential…


Oh for goodness sakes, lunch time already? I haven’t done anything yet! I’ve reviewed and responded to 10 urgent emails and about 30 others, and I’m still only about halfway done. Then there was that issue with whether or not we can validate the information that went out on the leadership team report from yesterday. Turns out the numbers were right, but we don’t have any documentation explaining why we pull the information that way. I’ve got to make sure we start documenting these business rules otherwise this is going to keep being a problem. The thing is, who has time to do it? My analyst is already working too many hours, and I don’t see anybody else on my team who takes initiative and looks like they could do a good job. I’ll have to ask the other managers if they have anybody that they want to reward with an assignment. After all, it’s a chance to get away from the day to day work, and if they play their cards right it could show that they are ready for a promotion.


Sometimes I just want to scream! I was just called away from lunch with my mentor because one of my peers had to leave for some reason that he didn’t tell me about earlier and now I have to go back because we need coverage on the floor. I’m really starting to wonder about that guy, he calls in sick a little bit too often for my liking. I wonder what my mentor thinks. It’s so frustrating! Oh well, on the bright side I guess I’ll get the chance to get through the rest of those emails.


I’m so glad to be out of that meeting. I don’t know why my manager wanted me in there; he certainly didn’t seem interested in my opinions. Now, it’s time to get started on those plans for the staff meeting tomorrow. I want to start with a development activity this time but I don’t know if I can, we have so many things that have to be shared from a training perspective that there may not be time. Wait a minute, what the heck? Why do we have 7 people in our phone queue with a 9 minute wait time on our phones? There are 3 people standing up at other people’s desk. That’s six people who could be on a call right now! I hate this part of the job. Now I’ve got to tell them to get on the phones. They should already know that! They can see it on the boards themselves.


Sometimes I really feel like I’m not cut out for this job. I didn’t want to yell at them, but everybody had excuses. Don’t they know that I’m going to get hammered in tomorrow’s leadership meeting if our wait time is too high for the day? It makes us all look like we are incompetent. Still, I should have been calmer. How was I supposed to know that they were at each other’s desks with questions for calls that they had on hold.


List? What list? Crap. If I don’t finish that security CBT by 5 PM today my name is going to be on a list that goes all the way up to the VP. But I don’t have time for this! I have another meeting at 3 and then an MBO at 4. What am I going to do… think…think. Ok, I’m going to have to reschedule the MBO. I guess I can push it to next week… it’s not like the employee was going to use it to their advantage anyway.


Why does it feel like I’m caught in an endless cycle of emails, meetings and assignments? I had my day all planned out, I was going to get out of here at 5 to go pick up my kid from school. Football practice has been over for a half an hour now and he’s just sitting out there waiting. Then after I get home and cook dinner I could hop online and work through some emails so they wouldn’t be stacked up when I get to work tomorrow. But now I have 2 assignments that came out of my last meeting and one of them is due tomorrow at noon. I’m going to have to work on it tonight instead of emails, which puts me in a bad spot tomorrow morning. If only I didn’t have to do this stupid CBT by 5 I could do the assignment now.


I’ve got to go! My poor son. No time to say goodbye to anybody, can’t risk getting caught in a conversation. I can’t wait till I get to my car and turn on my music. I’m so frustrated. My boss is completely incompetent. He doesn’t understand how much work it takes to accomplish the things that he wants, and if he knew what he was doing he wouldn’t have had to ask for it to begin with.

If only I worked for someone more like me…

—-And cut—-

Funny how it looks from the other side isn’t it. The fact is, unless your manager is unusually incompetent, then they are very much like you. We’ll spend time on incompetent managers at a different time. The rest of the time, you’re probably dealing with a competent manager who is overwhelmed or hasn’t learned the difference between leading and following yet. We’ll spend more time in the coming weeks on those topics as well.

For now, the simplest and most effective thing that you can do is this – realize that your manager probably needs help but doesn’t have anyone they can rely on. If you want to move up in the organization, it’s your job to become that person. If you do this successfully you’ll start to see things from the manager’s perspective and begin to think like they do.

From that point, you’re 75% of the way to your next promotion. Congratulations. Now all you have to do is do it.

Be blessed,


Credit for “Scream” to Robin Mills
Pulled the “Frustration” picture from our friends at Infield Fly.

Posted on November 21, 2010, in Personal Development and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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