You just got married. Congratulations dear manager!
I must be the last to congratulate you. But you got lots from your ‘nears and dears’ and even from those who might once have jeered or peer-ed. The balloons and festoons, the parties with the smart repartees over, you are off now in this pink car with the top thrown off, your music system in full blast and your hair billowing with the new tail wind. Your mind is in a whirl as you pulled it off. You became a manager and raced ahead of many a peer. It is that moment when nothing and no-one is anymore plotting against you, you do not see any hidden ghosts behind every creaking door. You can only see smiles all around, all appreciative of your calibre, your knowledge, your motives and all that is you.
Wow! the siblings, cousins, parents, uncles, aunts, neighbours even your ex-colleagues and your new team members, all look up to you as their new hero – the one who reached where so many aspire to be. There is a flush to your face that stays and a spring to your gait that is clearly noticed by anyone you pass by. The pink car is the new role as a Manager that you own now. It is brand new. You are on the managerial highway – finally. Miles to go but that is not what is on your mind. Miles to know but that is not what you are worried about now. You made it man and you have earned all the right to celebrate.
But, it was not easy – Getting out of school to make it into a proper college, missing that top company recruitment but finally making it to the next best in salary and reputation. Feeling lost in the initial years of being an employee in a company, finally getting a toehold despite the seniors not really enthusiastic to make space. It was sheer work pressure on their part and acquired knowledge on yours that made them throw some nuggets of both work and appreciation at you in the beginning. Getting to know those hidden facets of the mind of a working professional in an enterprise – to witness the amazing contradiction between the pally façade and the sharp contours of the competitive and manipulative nature of many in the survival race – It was all quite baffling and painful in the beginning. You did survive and achieved much more. You remained human enough to still start a family, take care of your parents, be respected by your colleagues and most importantly be appreciated by your bosses.
It was some journey to reach here – to be sitting alone in this pink car, cruising along the managerial highway. You are still soaked in what the car left in its wake. You can still hear the appreciative laughter and the eulogies from your seniors. A smile of satisfaction creeps in at the corner of your mouth as you recall the stare of awe from your juniors and the sideways look of veiled envy from those peers who did not make it. It tastes good!
Not bad, huh! to be alone in this lovely sweet spot. It is like a honeymoon – Yes it is! You just got married to management!
The thought makes you pull over. You push back your seat and allow your legs to stretch out. Your hands reach out behind your head in a confident snarl. You are not that naïve anymore. You have been married to your spouse for few years already. And you have been lucky so far. The marriage works well but the honeymoon in Seychelles did get over. It was great as long as it lasted but you both had agreed that it was a bit too short. Hmmm… this honeymoon too will get over soon… what after that? Did you know the answer when you soaked in the sun on the beach, played turtle for your spouse while appreciating the giant tortoises? No, you did not. Well, the similarity continues. The only difference is that now you got married to management without even as much preparation as for your marriage to your spouse.
You recall a ‘power talk’ by a rather middle aged guy from the industry arranged by your HR few months back. The guy with some grey sprinkled all around his face and head had drawn a similarity between becoming a parent and a manager. One of his statements sneaks in and pollutes the current fragrance wafting around…
“A parent and a manager are ordained to fail…as they do not receive any formal training before sliding into their new roles”
He went on to speak about topics that could help a manager to prepare better. By the end of the ‘power talk’ most were a bit nervous or merely bemused. The unnerving part came from the fact that what this guy spoke about did make sense although they were not really related to the topics one discussed in daily meetings, mails or tasks. People were more bemused as the topics like succession planning, self – development, motivation, leadership, were what you keep hearing about from HR every other day and others like purposeful decision making, vision, long term or strategic perspective, narcissism, volitional engagement, is what you read about in classy pull-outs of business magazines. Now, come on, these were not topics that one discussed in working hours or in work domains. They were great for intellectual confabulations over a coffee with such external speakers or befitted a roaring debate over some alcohol. Did such topics really help in improving efficiency or quality – instead they could shift the focus from what needs to be done to achieve the daily KPIs. Okay, let us get back to work and you drive off again happily in your pink car to your first days of managerial work.
That could have been your soliloquy when freshly minted as a manager. The reality about this marriage to management is going to last a while. You will be a manager till your last working day of your life. You have no options but to like it or suffer in it. Just like in real life marriage, you got to work it out or…phew! Remember, in this marriage to management too, you can change your spouse (employer) but you still got to work it out. The pink car is not that pink really once you take your pink glasses off.
No marriage is a protracted honeymoon, baby!