— December 18, 2017
When I was a young, entry-level worker, I sat in my cubicle, convinced I was the most important person in the company. I worked my tail off for the 500+ person organization and I figured without me, the wheels would definitely come off.
And yes, I silently seethed while my manager went out on frequent lunches with her manager, leaving us (talented) peons to handle all the grunt work they simply talked about. Sure I wondered why I couldn’t leave early to nurse my newborn but the big boss was allowed to take off every Thursday at 2:30 to see his daughter’s softball games.
Then would I get an expense account, a company car, a parking space or a flexible schedule? I contributed as much as they did (I thought) and worked even longer hours (yeah, right). I was just as smart and capable. When would I get MY turn to do all the things managers got to do?
Fast forward a decade or so and now I find myself in the manager’s shoes and I realize a whole lot of things managers DON’T get to do. If you’re like young me, wondering if being the big cheese is really as good as it seems, read on. Here’s a comprehensive list of things managers DON’T get to do (and I wish I’d known it a lot sooner).
1. The Boss Doesn’t Get to Pass the Buck.
When the report is late, when the advertisement is misspelled, when the press release goes out two minutes too late (ahhh Alanis), the boss doesn’t have anyone to blame it on. Sure, he or she may yell at you, but you’ll still get a paycheck, they might lose the client. They have to sit through grueling phone calls and embarrassing meetings because it was THEIR job to ensure that mistake never made it past them. But it’s not just that one mistake, it’s every mistake you’ve ever made in your position, times everyone in your department, every day.
How to prep for this: Whenever you’re given a project, make sure the work you pass on is your best work. Sounds simple, but it’s the same ethos I use with my kids. If it consistently leaves your computer or hands and it’s not your best work, you’re simply not ready to lead.
2. The Boss Doesn’t Get to Get Emotional.
I know what you’re saying, of COURSE the boss gets emotional. But what you mean is the boss confronts you. But she doesn’t get to get upset that she stayed up late painstakingly ordering every sandwich (yes, even the VEGAN one) and five people still got pissed at the lunch n’ learn. See, when you’re not in the managerial chair, all that seems harmless, like making fun of a celebrity on Twitter, but you guys, celebrities can see that, and if they do, it hurts their feelings. Even when employees are abusive, ungrateful, vengeful, abusive and disrespectful, the boss still has to keep her cool and keep it professional.
How to prep for this: If you’re not someone who gets involved at work, it might be best to keep it that way. If you have your heart set on managing people someday, try to make every work decision more about the work product than the personal relationship. Yes this goes for yourself as well.
3. The Boss Never Gets to Leave.
Yeah, you see them leave early on Fridays…because they need to spend time with their kids before their business trip on Saturday. And absolutely, they get to go on those fun client lunches, but they come back to the same amount of work as they had before and less time to do it in, especially when the lunch hour stretches to 3 (and the client still hasn’t signed). And when clients call, or catastrophes happen, you’re not the one in the office, they are.
How to prep for this: Recognize that while salary doesn’t mean 60 hour work weeks every week, sometimes to get the work done right, you need to take some time to tackle an issue outside of work hours. As long as you don’t make work your only important task, this will help ease you into the always-on work of a manager.
4. The Boss Isn’t Allowed to Be Your REAL Friend.
While they are encouraged by countless articles to take an interest in your personal life outside of work, they are prevented from becoming so close that their feedback appears biased. So while you and your coworkers can become the best of friends, the boss has to decline those Taco Tuesday invites.
How to prep for this: Create friendships outside of work. Before you become a boss is a great time to build friendships, hobbies and more that preclude everyone at work needing to be your best friend.
5. The Boss Can’t Tell You When You’re Being an Ass.
Believe me, he probably wants to. If the way I used to treat my bosses is any indication, most brand new office workers aren’t really aware of how they treat the workplace. From unwashed mugs and gross cubicles to disrespecting their colleagues and poor time management, there are a thousand things the boss would like to say but can’t. He might see your google chat conversations and know exactly how you feel about HIS boss and want to warn you about your actions, but the potential legal issues that raises are too much to risk.
How to prep for this: If you’re on a leadership path, make sure to find opportunities to give both positive and constructive feedback. As you do, make sure it never falls into the personal category. Keep comments restricted to work product and performance and try to guide your thoughts in a similar direction.
6. The Boss Can’t Skip the Team Building Exercise.
Oh, you hate it do you? Guess what? She’s no fan of balancing on logs next to you either while her kids are at home struggling through calculus without her help. But she does it, without complaining. Because to be a leader, you have to lead by example, or so says that book she bought when she first got promoted to manager.
How to prep for this: Just go to the team building exercise.
While there are lots of things the boss doesn’t get to do, there are absolute benefits to being the boss. You get to mold new minds, shepherd employees through trying times and be the boss, of course. Recent Universum research shows us that young people are far less likely to want to be managers of people. Maybe because we’ve made managing people too difficult? Perhaps.
As for me, being a manager/leader/boss lady has been far more rewarding than being that seething, spoiled (yes I most def was) employee. Whether you have the title you want or not, you WILL manage someone someday. Get Ready!