Things at work have been a little rough lately. I don’t mean “getting so blind drunk that I wake up three days later in a ‘no tell’ motel in Tijuana with a strange tattoo” kind of rough. No, I simply mean that work is more annoying than it was for me for many years. It is also taking me outside of my comfort zone.
Work is more annoying in part because many of the other people I’ve worked with for a long time are moving on. Management changes in our division of Company O. are giving people good reason to seek different pastures. It’s not necessarily because these changes are bad; it’s just that people that its an opportunity to do something else after working on the same thing for about four years. So, the “old gang” at work is largely packing up and moving on… and I, as I did more than once in grad school, seem to be staying behind to pick up the pieces.
That picking up of pieces of course means more opportunities for me… which is what is taking me outside of my comfort zone. My new manager since last October seems like basically a decent sort of fellow, with some good management skills. When I hear about the managers that other people are now working for, I think I managed to do fairly well. He’s looking to me to be his senior technical lead as other people leave. That’s putting me in different kinds of situations that I am used to… political situations mostly. I find that am being called upon to deal with people on a more diplomatic level, and this is bumping up against some of my basic personal tendencies.
I am not, for example, the most political of beings. One of the things that I like about science and engineering is that there is a logical basis for a lot of work that exists outside of the purely personal or political. One can argue about the nature of results or how they were obtained, yes, but results speak for themselves once an experiment or test is properly constructed. I therefore prefer the technical work part of what I do over the part that is more human interplay.
It’s not that I am bad at the “human part”. As you can see, I write fairly well and I can express myself. I have a fairly good presentation style. I clean up well.
No… I think that what I often lack in a in day-to-day conversational style is self awareness and finesse. I am not always able to step back and provide context for what I do and why I am doing it at a moments notice. I tend speak a little too often when I should be listening. I don’t always say things in a way that is sensitive to other people’s feelings as I could be. I talk loudly when I am excited. I sometimes don’t share information about what I am doing and why appropriately. I’ve been a little sloppy in experimental work lately. These are all little things in matter of degree, but they are piling up.
I want to grow. I want to be better. Fixing this is going to be hard. It’s going to force a change in habits. Can I learn to be more of the person that my boss and (by extension) Company O. needs me to be? I hope so.