Friday, December 30, 2011

All Things Change

I'd previously mentioned that we were going through a reorganization at work and that I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've vented a bit about the poor quality of my current upper management (fortunately, my immediate manager remains one of the best I've ever worked for). Well, the "other shoe" has dropped and, absent some meetings to hammer out transitional details, I know no which way things are going to fall.

Overall, I am in neutral about the proposed changes.

I have some complaints - I think the whole thing was just poorly handled, I think it is an example of the tendency in large companies for the bureaucracy to win, and I have my reservations about the new structure in terms of business sense.

I have some positives - I have vented periodically over the years about the difficulty in my job of wearing two very different hats simultaneously (project management v. customer service) and the change will finally split those two tasks out, which is something I have longed for for quite a while. Second, I won't kid you that I didn't see it coming, haven't seen it coming, for the last couple of years.

I initial joined The Evil Corporation as a contractor, and then was lured to take a full time position with them because I found it interesting (something that drives me in almost all my job choices over the years - if you have to work, you might as well do something you find interesting). I spent the first half of my career as an independent contributor in a variety of roles, then was asked to take over daily operations of a transactional and customer service center when the organization had grown two unwieldy to be managed effectively by a single manager. When I transitioned into that role I never quite managed to shed my independent responsibilities and I balanced, sometimes well, sometimes poorly, between the two worlds.

When I initially took over I had sixteen employees - over the intervening years as technology changed, positions went away slowly and steadily, at about two year intervals. Sixteen, Twelve, Ten, Eight, Five, Four, Three. The changes were wrought by changes in technology (rendering some of the work unnecessary) and changes in business strategy (outsourcing transactional tasks to a vendor). I didn't always agree with them, but I understood them. Like the changes taking place now, I don't necessarily agree with them, and in this case I don't necessarily understand them from a business point of view, but I have long said that the greatest risk to my organization was the whims of upper management who simply wanted to do things differently.

Basically, as a result of the changes I will return to where I began, which is primarily project planning and analysis, as an independent contributor. I will no longer be a "people manager". (There will be no change in my compensation.) The handful of folks who still report into me will report into another manager (whom I happen to have a lot of personal and professional respect for), and I will become responsible for my own work again.

I am frankly, terribly ambivalent about it, and because of that ambivalence I wind up in neutral, waiting to see the operational details. Though I am entering the year in a very good mood personally, actively looking forward to the year, I am ambivalent about my work for the first time in twelve years. I'll watch and see how things unfold, hoping that the changes are for the better, doing my best to craft them in that direction, and I will see if the ambivalence fades.

So, we look at the New Year as a chance to embrace changes - that is the approach I am going to take. I am not sure what the New Year is going to bring, but I am looking forward to it.

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