coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Friday, March 11, 2016

How I became a manager

As long as I'm on a work-related roll, I might as well give you some background information. The background info will enable me to start telling you stories that, hopefully, will put to rest, for good and all, any false idea you might have that I was a "professional" manager with super-duper supervisory and/or management skills. Then I will be free to write this damn blog without feeling like I have to behave myself. I don't want to be well-behaved. I'm retired.

I was a manager. For a long time. But, I certainly do not fit the manager type. I am quirky, mouthy, feisty, and I don't really care about dressing up or passing as normal. I am also overly dramatic and I like to swear. 

What gave my work-life meaning was the work I did, the people I worked for, the people I worked with, and the people I supervised. Every day I felt like I made a difference and contributed somewhat to making the workplace better. That was gold.

I could take classes for free!  Even working in the trenches was intellectually stimulating.  I learned a lot about people and organizational behavior. I developed relationships with lots of amazing faculty, students, and staff. It was a non-profit organization, which appealed to me as an old hippie and confirmed leftist. It was a great gig.


I worked at the university for 37 years. For the first 10 years I was an office worker. At a certain point I became an employee union organizer in my free time. For 3 1/2 years in the early 1980's I worked hard trying to bring collective bargaining (aka participatory democracy) to the pink collar workforce at the university. 

During those early years, I think I managed to do my office job well during regular working hours.  More to the point, I avoided getting fired for spending my evenings and lunch hours attempting to get other office workers to sign union authorization cards so we could hold an election and start a union. For all sorts of reasons I do NOT want to go into, it didn't work. 

Please do not send me comments telling me how bad unions are or how a corrupt union steward refused to help your father 30 years ago. Trust me, I have heard all those stories...ad nauseam. Relax, I am not trying to sign you up. I am very happy for you to have your own opinion as long as I get to have mine.

Anyway, when the union finally gave up and pulled out, I was left with organizing and leadership skills that made it extremely hard for me to continue to work for management. So I became management. It was kind of a choice between being a problem employee or being a half-way decent manager. I chose the latter.

One day a bird flew in my office window.
I had the best view, and I was happy to share

11 comments:

  1. I worked for a university, too, for about ten years. Not long enough to break out and develop the skills that eventually got me discharged from a major international company always worried about the SEC. Slightly left of left provides the best view.

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  2. As a relatively new reader it is nice to get this little slice of your life. Thanks for the background glimpse.

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  3. I suspect you were exactly the kind of manager I enjoyed working with; pity there aren't more like you around.

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    1. I suspect we would see eye to eye on a lot of work place issues.

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    2. I've worked for small, privately held businesses for most of my working life. I've been a manager / supervisor and will be fine not to ever be one again. Though, I suspect, if I work long(er) enough, it will happen. Perhaps by then, I'll be more with it. ;-)

      I too am happy to get this snippet of your back story. Thank you for sharing.

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    3. I was so happy to retire.

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  4. Like you, I was a manager. I got people to listen by being a person they could talk to and trust. I don't miss the work, but I sure miss the people.

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    Replies
    1. I almost said the exact thing in answer to Middle Girl, above (don't miss the work, but sure miss the people).

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So, whadayathink?