Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(One of) The problems with my job

I'm not sure if you think I complain about my job a lot or not, but I really don't like my job. I'm stuck in what Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project calls drift, when you wish something would happen to change your situation but you're not actively doing anything to help change your situation.

And I have excuses. It's December, so I'm busy with a million holiday-related activities. I can't quit my job because we need the money. I don't have time to look for a new job because I'm too busy working at the job I have. And, I have to regroup: I'm not sure I want to stick with accounting.

Accounting is one of those fields that really isn't all that interesting, ever, but if you're working with a good team at a decent company and have a reasonable boss, it's really quite fine. I know that may sound like an impossible combination, but, really, I've had that job. I just don't now.

And I am totally grateful that I have a job. Lots of people don't, and I'm making a decent salary and have benefits. Really, it's fine.

Except, also, really, it's not fine.

Here's the trouble. I have four bosses, none of whom are particularly good at management--neither managing people, or managing time, or managing projects.

That's not entirely fair. Probably my most skilled boss wanted a lesser job so she'd have a better work/life balance (yeah, right!), so she's totally underutilized, and also frustrated because she'd make better decisions if she was properly utilized, but since she sort of picked to put herself in the position she's in, I'm still holding her accountable.

About my team: I work with fantastic individuals. We all get along really well (we even hang out outside of work). We're all smart and funny, and we appreciate each other's differences. And we work together really well. We help each other if we have a lag in our own responsibilities, or even when we don't have a lag. We trade off jobs to get things done more efficiently. We talk to each other when we find a problem that we think affects more than one of us. We ask each other for help when we're not sure of something, or to talk through problem solving. We're really great. Great enough that my company should be working really hard to keep all of us.

We're so great that under normal circumstances we don't need a manager. Left to our own devices, we'll get everything done accurately and on time.

Unfortunately, nothing in my industry is operating under "normal circumstances" right now, and our inept managers feel the need to micro-manage so we're not left to our own devices.

We still all get along and help each other, etc, but none of us actually likes our job anymore.

And, when a team really needs a manager who can manage is when things aren't normal. Just like it's easy to like my sister when she's in a good mood, being nice and generally agreeable, and/or sleeping, you don't need a skilled manager when you've got a good team and things are going well.

But just like it's really hard to like my sister when she's grumpy, a bad manager does nothing useful when things are chaotic.

One of my managers has, so far, done not a thing related to me. She's a "floating manager" (whatever that might mean), and I'm not sure what she's doing with my department, but frankly, since it's not annoying me, as far as I'm concerned, she can keep doing it.

The manager directly above me, who's title is actually manager, who's the consultant, does the reviews of our work. Except her decisions are frequently being overruled by the manager above her, with the title supervisor. And the manager doesn't get a lot of say in what goes on, even though she has the most experience.

The supervisor has a very good knowledge of the industry we're in, our company, and accounting, but has terrible people skills. She doesn't seem to think it's important to tell us what's going on, so, for example, today, we discovered that someone on another team booked $100K to one of my accounts, and that $100K should not be recognized as revenue (go with me here). Recognizing this amount as revenue means we'd overstate revenue, by, you guessed it, $100K. After a long and tedious afternoon of trying to explain to her that I knew what I needed to make happen, but that the trouble was I had no place useful to put this $100K, she came up with some sort of calculation that would overstate revenue by $350K. At this point, I'm feeling a lot of, whatever--anything to move on with this so I can go get something useful done. She's in the point of saving this entry, and I say, is this what you want me to book? She says, Yes, unless you see something wrong with it. (You can see how we're in a financial crisis. What does it matter if I think about my job if I get paid to do something entirely differently?) I pointed out that revenue was being terribly overstated and, thankfully, she agrees, so we're back to the part where I know what needs to happen, but still need to get there.

So, I have a number of suggestions for supervisor boss, and since I actually like her and think that she really is trying to do a good job, she's just not really good at it, I've gone to her boss, or my 4th boss, the director, and explain the situation, saying supervisor knows the accounting, blah, blah, blah, but that she could really benefit from a mentor and some managerial training because here are the things that she's doing that make her really difficult to work for.

And director nods and smiles and says I'm not the only one with these concerns, and yes, she understands that supervisor is new at the role and needs some help, and NOTHING HAPPENS.

So, I have one manager who does nothing relating to me, one who's underutilized, one who can't manage, and one who doesn't do anything helpful.

Can I please be in charge?

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