Yay finally, I have time to blog and for my general readers, that is great news… for my period-readers, not so much. My cute lil’reader Alyson asked me why I hadn’t blogged in a while and it was just a matter of finding that inspiration kick. Today after an exhausting day from work, on the drive home, a bit of inspiration for a post did arrive and a reflection of why sometimes when dreams become reality, it never is as simple as it seems. Now, being a “grown-up” (and I quote that, lol) I already know that everything comes with a twist and that even the simplest of things become complex. Now I’m just being paradoxical instead of jumping into the main topic.
About half a year ago, I was transferred to another sub-department. Our “main” department is divided into 3 sub-departments, each with its own miniature management team. This department is known for being the one involved with the “hardest” work (how ever that is even defined) and that upon joining I knew I was going to be in for a good ride. I expected to take up a mediocre role, where I wouldn’t be doing anything extremely importantly and literally being the grunt that gets everything thrown at them, but with little actual responsibility.
I always used to tell myself to look forward to when I could be the guy who “gets to go to all the meetings” because in my mind, that’s where all the ‘important’ stuff happens. Previous to my department change, we had very infrequent meetings and in all honesty, nothing important were ever decided in those meetings. They were informative (if that) and because most decisions were made at the higher echelons, nothing we did/said really meant much in the bigger picture. Finally in this past 6 months, I’ve been to more meetings than for the years I’ve been working at this organization. So initially, I thought to myself, “Oh wow, this is a dream come true, I finally get to go to all these meetings!!” I figured because I was the “junior” of out the group of attendees, that I wouldn’t even be the one making the decisions. I’d sit there, smile and pretend to be part of the group. When you walk out the meeting room and everyone around you looks up, it gives that sense of pride to be “with the suits” with your head held high.
After a month or two, they began the see my performance and trust my work. To a degree, one could say they even relied on it. Within the past month, I have been heavily involved in an assortment of projects. Being one of the 4 project managers in this department and working within an organization of over 5,000 people, we’re definitely against the numbers. In the previous sub-department I worked for, most of the decisions often only impacted a selection of individuals. In my current sub-department, the decisions we make affect THE entire organization, including external stakeholders (and damn let me tell you, there are LOT of them). I suddenly realized the pressure in making decisions because the impact was at such a large scale. Before, if I screwed up, I may be the joke of the department for a couple of weeks and maybe make a few people disgruntled, but now, I am easily the target of the entire organization and stakeholders. Suddenly a screw-up is irreversible and likely something that could be devastating to one’s reputation.
That “dream” I always envisioned, being the person sitting at the big round table to call the shots suddenly made me a bit hot under the collar. They have passed down a lot of responsibility to me in the past few months, the better the performance they see, the more they lead me to take the bull by the horns. I do not regret performing well, after all who does not want to be a shining example at work and have a brighter career path? I enjoy AND fear the responsibility as it puts a lot of weight on your back. While the dream has come true, there’s a lot I didn’t bargain for, such as the pressure, obligation and responsibility that comes with ‘being the decision maker’. I told my friend this and he smiled, telling me this is always like that, “Beautiful woman you look for in your life, you find her and she’s gorgeous but dumb as a mule.” 😆 Now, I have to be careful about every word or idea I propose at these meetings, because they do make a difference and that a mistake may be costly for our entire organization. Committing millions of dollars to the “wrong product” is as devastating to our coffers as it would be to my reputation. Though in our organization luckily poor decisions (unless they’re out-rightly retarded or illegal) has never gotten anyone fired, but it’s definitely not a burden you want to carry.
So now on a daily basis, I sit at the big round table, drinking our coffees, keying on our laptop while people talk and occasionally staring up at the PowerPoint that the presenter is talking about, but now being at that table means committing yourself to a degree of responsibility which you must burden. I used to see the executives coming out, looking more disturbed than happy… I envied them, because they drove the direction of departments and organization. Now, I get to be the one that (even to a lesser degree), drive the direction of departments, but now I understand the look on my face when we leave. People are often poker-faced for a reason. Meetings often mean more work, more problems and more money (not in our pockets). I leave having to do and delegate more work, than going there to resolve things. I used to think the meetings were where everyone happily sits down and talks about the “successes” rather than failures and remedial steps.
It always is nice to think about success without the sandwich effect. It’d be nice to be “the people who make the decisions” IF those decisions didn’t have consequences. It would be great if I could walk into the meeting room, make all sorts of suggestions, paid big bucks but not be accountable for the decision made. However, that is not reality and nor should I expect it to have been. With every “dream” that comes true, something has to give…. and there’s always a twist!