40 hours a week.
That’s what a job is, usually. But when you are doing something you care about it ends up being more more than just 40 mindless hours that disappear once you walk out the door. Currently, I have a job that challenges me in both good ways and bad, forces me to think, exposes me to new experiences (constantly), makes me laugh and appreciate children and families. Some days, well, a lot of days, I get hung up on the challenges. This is my first experience supervising staff and ever since the day I walked through the doors of this agency I knew I wanted to have this job. Although, after being in the supervisor role for a mere 7 months (10 if you count when I was the “interim” supervisor) I can officially say I had no idea what I was in for. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I know I am going to walk away with so much more than what I started with but the learning curve has been an interesting one. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far on making the move to a supervisory role.
Supervising the Work Instead of Doing the Work
I am still not completely comfortable being the person supervising the work as opposed to being the person doing the work. Call me a control freak (go ahead, it’s nothing I don’t already do myself) or OCD but leading and supervising people that are responsible for the work is so incredibly different than actually being responsible for executing the work yourself. Now, instead of teaching workshops, chatting with participants, going on field trips and planning events my job consists of managing budgets, brainstorming strategies, monitoring staff, dealing with daily issues and agency bureaucracy. This, so far, has been the hardest change for me to adjust to. I can tell you one thing for sure – going cold turkey did not work. I’ll be adding in some workshops to calendar this fall!
I Can’t Supervise Your Personality
My previous supervisor, also the person who last held my position, once told me that not everyone works the same way we do and that we have to figure out how to still remain professional and get our work done in the mean time. It was the first time I had to directly work with someone who just really didn’t care about their job, the work we were doing and really lacked the ability to remain profession through frustration. This conversation was such a “lightbulb” moment that I find I am constantly reminding myself that it is not up to me to change someone’s personality. I can try and lead them to do the work and use their strengths to my (and the program’s) advantage but I can’t change who they are. Once I let go of that it made everything else slightly easier.
Just Because We’ve Never Done It Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Do It
There is a catch-22 to supervising a program that you used to work for. You don’t have a fresh perspective on how the program functions, you see things how they ARE not always how they COULD be. I find that being open to new ideas, directions and strategy can be difficult because you’re not sure how it will work and being the Guinea pig is scary. But I’ve got to admit, implementing new policies, strategies and ideas really helps me take ownership of the program. What we did 2 years ago worked great then, that’s why we’re still here but it’s not necessarily going to be what gets us to the next 5 years, change and evolution is good. If you let it be and you’re open to it.
Everything thing I do ends up revolving around this work. I’m playing around on Pinterest: I’m looking at facilitation or leadership resources. I’m reading a new book: it’s most likely about leadership, business or something to increase my skill set. Even this blog has turned into a space for me to talk about what I do and how I got there and where I want to go from this point. Right now my life revolves around this work and I’m okay with that. Thankfully I have a supportive husband who lets me vent, a boss that supports my development and obviously wants to see me succeed, a team that challenges me but also makes me laugh and surprises me everyday and every once and a while, I get to hang out with some super cool families and do some awesome things. Not a bad deal.