Creeping up the food chain

by Steve

Man and woman sat at a desk. It is the 1920s. They don't look too happy.

After any sort of blogging absence it feels kind of obligatory to explain what brought on said absence. Unless a blog is built around particularly sporadic posts and is self-consciously produced in such a way, it would seem pretty odd to not at least acknowledge a period of blogging silence. Yet, posting up a bunch of excuses for not posting isn’t, in itself, particularly interesting either. People who are new to the site really won’t care that Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Blogger has been busy/uninspired/taking an internet sabbatical/etc. If anything it will probably put them off ever returning (Bye New Visitors!).

In fact, the only way to redeem such a post would be to regale readers with an entertaining tale about the fascinating reasons said blogging activities have been on hold. Well, that should work if the blog is of a navel-gazing nature anyway (and I’m increasingly convinced the best blogs are. For ‘best’ read ‘blogs I actually enjoy reading, as opposed to reading well-considered blogs that I know are good for me, but aren’t that much fun. Like bran. Or something). I can’t tell an entertaining tale, and I haven’t got an especially entertaining reason for the lack of blogging, but I’m in too deep now to just bail out of this post. Missed me? Anyway, let me…er…begin.

Well, I haven’t undertaken any sort of NaNoWriMo-style adventure. In fact, I haven’t written much at all beyond a whole bunch of timewaste-y tweets. And I’m pretty sure they don’t count as ‘real’ writing. I haven’t been on any exotic holidays, although I did manage to get away for a few days with my lovely wife for a relaxing break, which while absolutely perfect in terms of spending quality time together/recharging the batteries wasn’t really blogging fodder. I’ve read bits and pieces, I’ve listened to a few albums, but I’m not sure I have a whole lot to say about them, or if I have I’m inclined to keep my powder dry in case I produce some sort of end-of-year post (don’t get your hopes up, but you never know). I’ve watched plenty of sport, but I’m not convinced I can add much insight to any given sporting event, not that it has stopped me before.

I have, however, got a promotion at work, so I am now moving into the dizzying, heady circles of middle management. I’m wary of getting too specific, for fear of in future becoming some horrible case study in How Blogging Can Lose You Your Job. However, I think it is safe to say that during a period of prolonged uncertainty/organisational change/general work-misery-most-companies-are-going-through-as-the-global-economy-goes-to-shit I’d been informally ‘acting up’ into a number of managerial responsibilities, and then as that uncertainty-etc ebbed to a more manageable degree a new position was created that actually included those tasks I’d been informally undertaking (plus some others), and I stepped into that post on an interim basis, then applied for, interviewed for, then got, said post on a permanent basis. Phew.

So, I’ve been pretty busy. There’s line-management and Big Projects to co-ordinate and the general fire-fighting and office politics to be negotiated by yr vast majority of Middle Managers. It is not exactly a noble pursuit, although as I work for a charity it has its moments. Or I can at least pretend my 9-to-5 is vaguely worthwhile. The novelty hasn’t worn off just yet. It is nice having a little responsibility, but not too much. But it has meant I’ve had a lot less brain-space and a lot less time for hot blogging action.

I have, however, realised that the move into management, however minor, means that I am now more David Brent/Michael Scott than Tim/Jim. No more sitting at my desk raising an eyebrow at an imaginary camera. I’m now part of the machine, however small that ‘machine’ might be. I’m one of ‘them’. It is harder to be cynical, outwardly or internally, when you are kind of part of the problem, or the one who will have to find the solution. And I like being cynical. Now I have to be positive.

I’m not yet a complete embarrassment. Well, I don’t think so. And I’ve had to be positive for some time, at least to some degree, because I don’t think Total Cynicism does anyone any good. But I doubt I’ll be winning any Inspirational Leadership awards just yet.

But I do realise that I now can’t just wash my hands of any problems. I can’t just blame the bosses, or the system, or the structure, or the circumstances. They are my problems now, and it not easy to solve them well. And it is not easy to avoid becoming a figure of fun or disdain. But I suppose being any sort of manager isn’t a popularity contest. I’m not after any sympathy. This sort of stuff goes with the territory. And there’s a long way to go yet. If nothing else it should offer some added material and insight to the never-to-be-seen Great Office Novel.

However, I’m still holding out for the Unexpected Windfall/Very Early Retirement double-whammy. Wish me luck.

Image from State Library of New South Wales, via Flickr