Tech Manager—I am Tired of This
(Part of the Secrets Tech Managers Keep)
The next secret that Tech Managers keep is that they are tired of putting up with some things. Some are frustrated with the things that others may not know anything about. Some are nearing a breaking point. Some may be thinking that it will never get better. Let’s look at the things that are making them tired and what can be done about it.
Too Much Work, Not Enough Time
There is always a long list of things that need to be done. There are endless projects to be completed, research to investigate and housekeeping tasks. But sometimes it gets overwhelming. People keep coming to you and asking for help. They need to be served and your plate is full. The backlog keeps growing and you are not making headway. It is frustrating and it looks like there is no relief coming. And if you have no one else to help, it all lands in your lap. But, if the company does not want to provide additional staff and you have asked for it (see prior article on staffing), then you are left with your own two hands and that is it. You go home tired and feeling like you didn’t satisfy anyone or complete anything.
What to do about it - Realize that you are one person. When the task list gets too long, start explaining it to others. “I can take this on, but other things might be delayed” or “I can’t get to this today, but maybe next week. Is that okay?” Then prioritize the tasks and start getting them down, one by one. It is the most you can do, and you do not need to feel like you are failing. You can go home at the end of the day (and not stay all night) with a feeling of accomplishment for those items you got done.
Not enough Compliance
You make guidelines, standards and protocols that assist with streamlining, structuring, and increasing productivity. You put in hours of process analysis, observation, and discussion to come up with procedures that help everyone work more efficiently. Then no one follows them. They say they do, but they don’t. Or maybe they just forget. Or they must move faster to meet project deadlines and do things on the fly. Whatever the reason… things are not standardized, and rules are not followed.
What to do about it – Realize that most folks do not have the same level of concern about standards and guidelines. They just want to do their jobs and get the projects out the door. And they sometimes don’t even admit that they have violated the rules. So, you need to gauge the severity of the violation and put it into perspective. If it is egregious and will break other things down the road, then it needs to be addressed. If it is slight and really does not impact the project, then you might want to remind them of the guidelines and let it slide. Pick your battles, pick the ones you can win, and stick to your guns. You may have to just fix things yourself. But if it is a deviation that could be passed onto other projects, take care of it. Don’t let the mess get messier.
You Inherited Chaos
When you stepped into the role of Tech Manager, you either filled another person’s spot or were the first person to fill that wrung on the ladder. The position may have been created for you or by you and now you must make it better. You may have been promoted into the role as others left the firm or moved to other positions. Either way, you probably are tired of the mess that the systems and guidelines may be in. You are tired of things not being properly structured. You are tired of the guidelines being silent about new areas of design or tools that you have begun using.
What to do about it – Don’t keep telling people that you inherited this mess. That only works for a few months and then folks will expect you to do something about it. So, get to it. Start with some easy wins, like adding guidelines for some new tools or features that your team has embraced. Or maybe some easier housecleaning of old projects. Start developing a circle of informants that can help you flag the anomalies that need to be fixed. Prioritize them and start banging away on making things better.
You are tired of doing the same thing. Day after day, week after week, months on end. The tedium of some of the tasks you have to do is deflating. You are asked to do the same things or fix the same problems again and again. You must redo the work of others that was not done right. You have to correct repeated mistakes that others make. You have to train newcomers in the same processes that you trained others in. It just seems so repetitive.
What to do about it – Understand that every job has its repetitive parts. Things are like this for everyone. Flight attendants repeat the same safety procedure before every take off. Tire techs change tires multiple times a day using the same process every time. Coffee houses brew millions of cups of coffee the same way. Everything is repetitive. But in between the repeat performances of your tasks, you get new projects, new tech, new hardware, and software to research, review, select and deploy. Tech workers actually live in a constant state of change. So, knuckle down during the monotonous parts and work to get them more productive and done in short amounts of time so you can move on to the new and shiny parts of your job.
These things and more can make you tired. You can be worn down by the parade of projects, no one following the rules, the chaos, and the recurring nature of the work. But you can get through it. You won’t always be tired. Relief will come. You will get a break. Hang in there until it comes.