It’s been about six months since my boss went off sick with a mysterious ailment that caused all sorts of internal bleeding to a point very close to death. Even now that he’s on the road to recovery and the medical system can do a lot more exploration, they have no idea what caused it, nor if it will reoccur.
In the beginning this was very upsetting to our work team, and we sent gifts and made hospital visits in the weeks until he went home – where he is now recuperating, his return date uncertain. He popped into the office last week and is looking healthy, but he made no commitments to coming back to work, and I suspect he’s still in a pretty serious period of recovery.
For the first four months one of our co-workers stepped into the role on a temporary basis – which worked out in a pinch, but he’s a bit too young (and lacks the gravitas) to be taken seriously as senior management so he wasn’t able to advocate for us unit much. It was during this time my work team got loaded with a huge website conversion project, and quite seriously I was feeling under-supported as a supervisor and project manager of the work. My manager-coworker didn’t seem to take the added workload and stress very seriously, and I experienced some skepticism from my team as to our ability to complete the project in the time frame I had committed to. I actually cried at work on more than one occasion – unusual for me – and entertained active fantasies about quitting without notice.
Two months ago we got a new acting Director – a woman who has been around our organization and in senior management for a significant period of time. As a union rep I have encountered her a fair bit, and was somewhat ambivalent – seemed nice enough, didn’t really know what she was about, didn’t have an active dislike – which is how I feel about most people I deal with and don’t know well. Now that I’ve gotten to know her better? I have to acknowledge that she’s actually pretty excellent (so far) which I think has a lot to do with the fact that she actively enjoys managing people. Like it’s what she’s all about even though she comes from a policy background and has definitely paid her bureaucrat dues – she seems energized by having a team of people, and she actively works to draw the best out of those people.
My project deadline is next Wednesday and we’ve advanced nearly to the end of the work – for real, we’re going to be 95% by deadline which is an incredible rate of success for a web redevelopment project. We’ve all worked pretty hard to get here, and I’m feeling a million times better than I was six months ago when my boss got ill, or four months ago when the hammer came down in terms of workload. This is not the first time I’ve managed a large transition such as this, but I have to say it’s probably the most intensive and the most successful time around – which I will chalk up to:
- I am a better project manager than I used to be
- the ability to add an extra person for a 3-person team working on it
- solid support from above rather than ambivalence
- accountability tracking that were part of an ongoing conversation rather than ignored – not only did I visually track the team progress which they all agree (now) was motivating, but I also reported to my manager each week with a full account of where things were at.
The last six months has been a bit of a rough ride workwise but I feel like I’m coming out of it with a better grasp on my own role as well as a good relationship with my new Director which means more better projects soon!