Author Topic: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?  (Read 8857 times)

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #50 on: October 04, 2017, 01:02:16 PM »
How many people report to you? I've always found just the management part in itself enough to fill my days. Are you having frequent meetings with your employees? Talking about what they need, their goals, where they feel they need to grow and and how you can support them, etc.?

I've always been in a position where I needed to carve out a place for myself, write my job description, figure out what needed to be done and then implement it. Can you not do any of that here? If you aren't getting it from your boss, why don't you try coming up with it on your own and then showing him for feedback? If the boss is just busy it helps to take the initiative to do it yourself. And in my experience, writing your own performance review is completely acceptable. As is writing your own goals--so if you don't know what is expected of you, look at the company objectives, see where you and your team can add value, and try writing your own goals. Would that work? Good luck!

I've only got 4 direct reports, and a total of 8 people under my span of control.  One of the direct reports supervises 4 people.  The folks in my group are in positions where scheduling a meeting with them is really difficult because they have unusual schedules, are fairly busy, and they're also expected to respond to trouble tickets and phone calls right away.  If I schedule a meeting with them, they can't do that so then someone calls me and asks why my people aren't doing their jobs.

What's tough about this for me is it's just not the type of work that suits my personality type.  In college, I was the guy who went back and locked myself in the dorm room or went to a quiet place on one of the upper floors of the library and worked on a homework assignment as soon as it was handed out even if it wasn't due for a week.  If a professor assigned homework in class Monday morning, I'd have it done by Monday afternoon.  I liked having projects, hard deadlines, and clear expectations.  I also had a strong preference for working alone.  I hated being assigned to a group project because then I had to deal with other people's schedules and priorities.  My priorities were drinking beer and watching sports, so I got my shit done during the day when other people were in class.  Did I want to work on a group project at night or on a Saturday?  Hell no.  That was beer-drinking, football watching time ;).

In this job, there are very few projects, no real deadlines, and the expectations are unclear at best.  When I was asked to put together a job description a couple of years ago, I put a line in it stating that the person in this position "must be able to prioritize work efforts and self-direct when instructions are often vague or ambiguous".  In my opinion, that was the most important line in the whole job description.  In many ways, that's the whole friggin job.  Guess what.  My boss removed that line when he submitted the final version to HR.  I guess he felt like it diminished his role as a Director.

I will take a look at the company objectives (I honestly can't remember what they are right at the moment since they seem to change every other week) and see if I can somehow align my performance goals to the company's.  Thanks for the feedback.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2017, 01:05:35 PM by Schaefer Light »

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #51 on: October 05, 2017, 08:20:18 AM »
I think you've probably figured it out and just don't believe that you can occupy a position that's so unproductive and, in good times, seemingly purposeless. Middle management is a buffer between the labor and the upper management. Things can get to the point where your job is hard, which is when labor and upper management have different ideas as to what the labor should be doing. So congrats on finding a functional place for the moment.

1 and 2 above are helpful, and I advocate that 1 be as high on your list as possible because it will make your life easier when your job starts to get difficult. 2 never hurts. But your real job (if you want to keep it and keep life easy) is to make the upper up, who ousted your predecessor and put you in their place, happy. So what does that mean? Unfortunately, politics.

Make them feel responded to. If they come to you with a request, don't argue with them about how it's impossible. Don't tell them the worker bees aren't going to like it. They either know or are out of touch enough they don't want to hear it. They have pressure from above and shit flows downhill. So it's "yes sir!" and then reports on how you fixed things for them. At worst, "yes, but... ", where what follows is that you need something, money, time, other resources, strings pulled in department X. Never no, though what you ask for might make it a no anyway. Not your no, though, that cursed director of department X's no.

But, pursuant to 1 above, you get to be the umbrella for your little group. If you make sure most of the shit doesn't get to them, they'll like you and work well for you. Never forget that. As much as possible, somebody with your job is to deflect the shit so the people that do work can get it done and the company can make money despite anything happening above. Your true showing of skill in your position will be how well you can keep both sides happy, probably without the resources needed to have any impact above pleading with people. That's where 1 above will save your bacon. And remember to solve the problem, not just do what the boss says blindly.

Make them look good. Your upcoming review is a good place to do that. One of your strengths is probably faithfully implementing all the clear direction that manager gave you. "But omachi," you say, "I have no direction, much less clear! That's the whole point of this thread!" Well, you did implement every last bit of the clear direction you received, didn't you? Congrats, "all" rarely gets to be a weasel word, but it sure is here. If it makes you feel any better, nobody, including your boss, actually cares about the review. They need a way to justify your pending cost of living adjustment. If they actually cared, they sure as hell wouldn't have you write your own review. Talk about letting the fox into the hen house.

Make them know you're on their side. Your predecessor was probably ousted not for honesty but for inability to play politics. There's a time and place for honesty, and it's never when you're going to make your boss look bad. If you're in a meeting and your boss says something obviously wrong, don't correct them in front of everybody. If your boss is wrong, called out on it, and turns to you for backup, you believe what your boss said but don't have the specifics with you. You'd be happy to get them, though. After the meeting, go talk with the boss and gently make the correction. "We only booked all that work, and my team is still completing it. It will be done at such and such a time." That's clear, honest, and shows whose side you're on. Your boss needs allies, and being a good ally is a good way to be valued.

Thanks for all the advice.  I think the part I bolded is a big part of my issue.  I like doing things myself.  I don't enjoy relying on other people to do things.  But if I'm going to have to rely on others to do things, I'd at least like some clarity about how our group as a whole is going to be judged.  I doubt I'll ever get that, though.

omachi

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #52 on: October 05, 2017, 09:14:03 AM »
I think you've probably figured it out and just don't believe that you can occupy a position that's so unproductive and, in good times, seemingly purposeless. Middle management is a buffer between the labor and the upper management. Things can get to the point where your job is hard, which is when labor and upper management have different ideas as to what the labor should be doing. So congrats on finding a functional place for the moment.

...

Thanks for all the advice.  I think the part I bolded is a big part of my issue.  I like doing things myself.  I don't enjoy relying on other people to do things.  But if I'm going to have to rely on others to do things, I'd at least like some clarity about how our group as a whole is going to be judged.  I doubt I'll ever get that, though.

No problem and I think you're very close to understanding. You and your group are going to be judged based on how happy you make your boss. There's not likely to ever be a checklist that will equate to this. If there was a checklist and you found a way to make your boss unhappy while complying with it, they'd find a way to trump up something against you eventually. So less worrying about specific hard requirements, no matter how nice it would be to simply have them and think they'd insulate you from whim and feelings.

The reality is that you're in charge of your group's perception. If your boss only ever sees your group as responsive, hard working folks that do everything to make the boss' life easier, that's what you are. It doesn't actually matter if you played solitaire all week except that 15 minutes where you immediately responded to direct people when it was actually needed. That immediate response is what maintains the perception.

I hope that's clear. You're going to be judged by a level of happiness, most of which (if your boss is a professional) is going to come from how your boss perceives your group making his or her life better. You're in charge of that perception. That's what you get to do as middle management.

Despite all that, do right by your people. Don't beat them up to fix an issue right now on Friday afternoon when the issue could be solved Monday without any change in result. If you're going to require a group of people to come in on the weekend, use your expense funds to show up with donuts or something, and stick around for an hour or so. It'll go a long way to showing solidarity. Get them the training and experience they need to advance if they want it. As much as possible, give them the room to actually do their jobs. Publicly sing of their successes, don't take all the credit for yourself.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #53 on: October 05, 2017, 10:29:19 AM »
I think you've probably figured it out and just don't believe that you can occupy a position that's so unproductive and, in good times, seemingly purposeless. Middle management is a buffer between the labor and the upper management. Things can get to the point where your job is hard, which is when labor and upper management have different ideas as to what the labor should be doing. So congrats on finding a functional place for the moment.

...

Thanks for all the advice.  I think the part I bolded is a big part of my issue.  I like doing things myself.  I don't enjoy relying on other people to do things.  But if I'm going to have to rely on others to do things, I'd at least like some clarity about how our group as a whole is going to be judged.  I doubt I'll ever get that, though.

No problem and I think you're very close to understanding. You and your group are going to be judged based on how happy you make your boss. There's not likely to ever be a checklist that will equate to this. If there was a checklist and you found a way to make your boss unhappy while complying with it, they'd find a way to trump up something against you eventually. So less worrying about specific hard requirements, no matter how nice it would be to simply have them and think they'd insulate you from whim and feelings.

The reality is that you're in charge of your group's perception. If your boss only ever sees your group as responsive, hard working folks that do everything to make the boss' life easier, that's what you are. It doesn't actually matter if you played solitaire all week except that 15 minutes where you immediately responded to direct people when it was actually needed. That immediate response is what maintains the perception.

I hope that's clear. You're going to be judged by a level of happiness, most of which (if your boss is a professional) is going to come from how your boss perceives your group making his or her life better. You're in charge of that perception. That's what you get to do as middle management.

Despite all that, do right by your people. Don't beat them up to fix an issue right now on Friday afternoon when the issue could be solved Monday without any change in result. If you're going to require a group of people to come in on the weekend, use your expense funds to show up with donuts or something, and stick around for an hour or so. It'll go a long way to showing solidarity. Get them the training and experience they need to advance if they want it. As much as possible, give them the room to actually do their jobs. Publicly sing of their successes, don't take all the credit for yourself.

This just motivates me to FIRE even sooner than I had planned ;).  I totally agree with the doing right by my people part of the job.  I push for funding for training, don't ask them to do anything unreasonable (unless forced to do so by upper management) and generally give them as much freedom as I can.  I'd give them even more freedom if it weren't for certain procedures we have to follow.  I've told all of them I'd let them work from home if I could get it approved.  Four tens was the closest I could come.

I wish upper management would just come out and say "your goal here is to make us happy...that's all we care about".  If that's the reality of the situation, then I'd just like to hear them say it.  Personally, I don't give a fuck about perception.  I deal in reality.  I was an engineering major in college, and reality trumps perception when you're building bridges, power plants, or computer networks.

Sorry if it comes across as if I'm arguing with you, because I think there's a lot of truth in what you're saying.  It doesn't make me feel any more productive as a human being, though.

omachi

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #54 on: October 05, 2017, 10:57:55 AM »
This just motivates me to FIRE even sooner than I had planned ;).  I totally agree with the doing right by my people part of the job.  I push for funding for training, don't ask them to do anything unreasonable (unless forced to do so by upper management) and generally give them as much freedom as I can.  I'd give them even more freedom if it weren't for certain procedures we have to follow.  I've told all of them I'd let them work from home if I could get it approved.  Four tens was the closest I could come.

I wish upper management would just come out and say "your goal here is to make us happy...that's all we care about".  If that's the reality of the situation, then I'd just like to hear them say it.  Personally, I don't give a fuck about perception.  I deal in reality.  I was an engineering major in college, and reality trumps perception when you're building bridges, power plants, or computer networks.

Sorry if it comes across as if I'm arguing with you, because I think there's a lot of truth in what you're saying.  It doesn't make me feel any more productive as a human being, though.

Sounds like you've got it down and are on the path to out. Absolutely not taking the conversation as argument. I never made the push into management because I prefer reality to appearances and perception as well. I know the game but don't like to play it. So far resisted attempts to push me into management. Still have to manage perceptions, but just for myself. But I've had a few really excellent managers and have advised a couple that have done very well for themselves and their people, so feel able to say what I have confidently.

Upper management's hands are a little tied when it comes to being honest about what they want. It would be a breath of fresh air if they'd just say make us happy, but it does't fit a very good narrative. That somebody got ousted from your role for buying into that narrative and trying to be honest (probably at inopportune times) rather than make the boss happy shows the narrative is important. People want to work where they feel contributions matter, progress is being made, and a vision is being followed.

You've lifted that curtain and now don't feel so productive. Double edged sword there. You'll be better able to do your job. You'll be better able to help your people and see them advance in their careers. You won't feel so motivated by the narrative.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #55 on: October 09, 2017, 10:39:55 AM »
Sounds like you've got it down and are on the path to out. Absolutely not taking the conversation as argument. I never made the push into management because I prefer reality to appearances and perception as well. I know the game but don't like to play it. So far resisted attempts to push me into management. Still have to manage perceptions, but just for myself. But I've had a few really excellent managers and have advised a couple that have done very well for themselves and their people, so feel able to say what I have confidently.

Upper management's hands are a little tied when it comes to being honest about what they want. It would be a breath of fresh air if they'd just say make us happy, but it does't fit a very good narrative. That somebody got ousted from your role for buying into that narrative and trying to be honest (probably at inopportune times) rather than make the boss happy shows the narrative is important. People want to work where they feel contributions matter, progress is being made, and a vision is being followed.

You've lifted that curtain and now don't feel so productive. Double edged sword there. You'll be better able to do your job. You'll be better able to help your people and see them advance in their careers. You won't feel so motivated by the narrative.

When I was promoted to "manager", I went a couple of years without having any direct reports.  I think they just gave me the title of manager so they could justify my salary.  I miss those days.  Things went downhill when they assigned people to work for me.  It wasn't so bad when it was just a couple of guys who were my own age and shared similar interests as mine.  It became decidedly more challenging when that group was sold off and I got 8 direct reports who aren't exactly known for getting along with one another.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #56 on: October 13, 2017, 06:55:52 AM »
I think I have figured out one of my big problems with this job.  It's the fact that I have very little control over anything yet at the same time it feels like I'm being judged based on these events that are out of my control.  Something breaks and it's my fault.  Someone in my group doesn't respond to an issue in the blink of an eye and it's my fault.  That shit drives me nuts.

Still, I wish my boss would tell me what he really expects the person in my role to do (even at a very high level).  At least then I'd know if there's any way I can possibly succeed in this role.  I try not to worry about all these things that I can't control, but that's tough when you feel like it's how your performance is being measured.

zinnie

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2017, 11:17:52 AM »
How many people report to you? I've always found just the management part in itself enough to fill my days. Are you having frequent meetings with your employees? Talking about what they need, their goals, where they feel they need to grow and and how you can support them, etc.?

I've always been in a position where I needed to carve out a place for myself, write my job description, figure out what needed to be done and then implement it. Can you not do any of that here? If you aren't getting it from your boss, why don't you try coming up with it on your own and then showing him for feedback? If the boss is just busy it helps to take the initiative to do it yourself. And in my experience, writing your own performance review is completely acceptable. As is writing your own goals--so if you don't know what is expected of you, look at the company objectives, see where you and your team can add value, and try writing your own goals. Would that work? Good luck!

I've only got 4 direct reports, and a total of 8 people under my span of control.  One of the direct reports supervises 4 people.  The folks in my group are in positions where scheduling a meeting with them is really difficult because they have unusual schedules, are fairly busy, and they're also expected to respond to trouble tickets and phone calls right away.  If I schedule a meeting with them, they can't do that so then someone calls me and asks why my people aren't doing their jobs.

What's tough about this for me is it's just not the type of work that suits my personality type. In college, I was the guy who went back and locked myself in the dorm room or went to a quiet place on one of the upper floors of the library and worked on a homework assignment as soon as it was handed out even if it wasn't due for a week.  If a professor assigned homework in class Monday morning, I'd have it done by Monday afternoon.  I liked having projects, hard deadlines, and clear expectations.  I also had a strong preference for working alone.  I hated being assigned to a group project because then I had to deal with other people's schedules and priorities.  My priorities were drinking beer and watching sports, so I got my shit done during the day when other people were in class.  Did I want to work on a group project at night or on a Saturday?  Hell no.  That was beer-drinking, football watching time ;).

In this job, there are very few projects, no real deadlines, and the expectations are unclear at best.  When I was asked to put together a job description a couple of years ago, I put a line in it stating that the person in this position "must be able to prioritize work efforts and self-direct when instructions are often vague or ambiguous".  In my opinion, that was the most important line in the whole job description.  In many ways, that's the whole friggin job.  Guess what.  My boss removed that line when he submitted the final version to HR.  I guess he felt like it diminished his role as a Director.

I will take a look at the company objectives (I honestly can't remember what they are right at the moment since they seem to change every other week) and see if I can somehow align my performance goals to the company's.  Thanks for the feedback.

The bolded seems like the most important take away, here! That's what I'd focus on. There are a lot of jobs out there that would probably be a better fit for you. I always thought it was silly that the "expected" path to growth in most companies is to management, when in reality management and a more technical role are completely different types of work that suit different types of people.

I think I have figured out one of my big problems with this job.  It's the fact that I have very little control over anything yet at the same time it feels like I'm being judged based on these events that are out of my control.  Something breaks and it's my fault.  Someone in my group doesn't respond to an issue in the blink of an eye and it's my fault.  That shit drives me nuts.

Still, I wish my boss would tell me what he really expects the person in my role to do (even at a very high level).  At least then I'd know if there's any way I can possibly succeed in this role.  I try not to worry about all these things that I can't control, but that's tough when you feel like it's how your performance is being measured.

You need a place with more structure and clearer expectations/goals, it sounds like. Anyway, good luck.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2017, 01:45:54 PM »
Hi, SchaeferLight.  As a reader with some experience in corporate America, some tech-related roles, etc. (not an expert by any means though), it sounds like you're getting really accurate feedback here.  Omachi and Zinnie's remarks sound spot on.

I think your understanding of the job is accurate.  You just don't like the nature of the job and the lack of clarity.  Here are my best guesses re pending issues.

1. Writing your own review - happens all the time.  If you haven't done this yet, please do it without guilt. 

Write that you did a good job.  Write that performance in your area is high because you are competent in the technical area and effective as a leader.  Turnover on your team is low because team members respect your expertise.  Mention a couple of low-downtime metrics.  Write that your team did a good job because of your management skills in handling diverse personalities.  Write that conflict resolution is not SchaeferLight's favorite part of the job, but he is a team player who has diligently and successfully managed the working relationships of the team.  You have put forth great effort toward improving your team's response times through incident management. (This last part is almost meaningless, but it is the part where you subtly acknowledge that once in a while the shit hit the fan and you couldn't control it immediately.  Skip it if you want).  Conclude by saying "Overall, SchaeferLight's area is reliable because he combines technical skills with responsible management."

2. Lack of direction.  Consider your directions or job descritption to be the things articulated by other posters and yourself.  I will add a couple based on the training I received at a top business school.  Listed for convenience, in order of what management notices:

a. Keep upper management happy.  From their viewpoint, this has 4 aspects that are functional.
i. Prevent problems in your area from occurring.  This keeps your boss from looking bad in front of his/her boss.  You're fine here - I will mention below things you do about this that you don't notice about yourself.
ii.  Don't say stuff that makes bosses look bad.  Accomplish this by making no remarks, offering no solutions outside your team, and not making any excuses.  Take care of your team, keep everything else to yourself.  That probably takes care of the politics thing your former boss/current employee screwed up.  Again you're probably fine.
iii. Take care of problems that arise.  You do this fine too, because you let your team fix stuff.  Once in a while management blames you.  That's unfair but part of the job; if you're not fired, you're cool.  Tell them you're working on it.  The actual thing to do is have a good team and let them work.  Also you reduce the personality conflicts to the point where they can work together.  Same actions as needed in part i above.  You do this and thus fulfill both i and iii.  Other supervisors don't.  Your contribution is real. 
iv.  Don't take up management bandwidth.  In your company, defining your job would take up bandwidth, aka force management to pay attention to you when they have more pressing matters on their plate.  They'll be happy if you leave them alone.

Someday this will change and they will want more or fire you.  But you might FIRE by then. 

For what it's worth, conflict resolution and leadership by technically competent staff are huge things. It partly feels like you're not doing anything partly because you don't notice what you do well. 

That said, if you hate it, look for another job.  But do so very very carefully lest you cause new problems.

b. Keep your team supplied with training, tools, information, and where needed, guidance.  That, along with conflict resolution and protecting your team from upper management's interference, is a supervisor's/middle manager's job re their team.  You appear to be doing all of those things.  Most teams that suck have managers that don't do those things.  You probably make a huge difference in your team's lives.  On their behalf, thank you. 

c. You have correctly identified that in substance, your team's functional task is to maintain some company infrastructure.  When it works, nobody cares.  When it doesn't, your team is the center of the shitstorm. 
i.  Proper training and management of your team (keep good people, let 'em do their jobs) help.  You do this already. Keep doing it. It counts.
ii.  The person who said investigate if you can improve response and presentation of problem incidents is right, do that if you can. Also research how your downtime compares with other companies; if yours is good, be ready to explain that. 
iii.  The main thing is not let your team get yelled at when they're fixing broken shit, let yourself get yelled at. That's a thing.  It keeps them safe and it's what a good boss does. Keep doing it.

If you don't like your job, then quietly carefully look for something better.  Look for companies with more structured expectations, or roles where you can earn your salary without management responsibility.  But don't disrespect the actual good performance that you actually deliver right now to eight people.



koshtra

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2017, 03:16:17 PM »
Plus ten million on Bicycle_B's response  :-)

Performance reviews are the very last place where you want to be sincere or honest. That's not what they're for. (What they're really for, so far as I can see, is to give employees the opportunity to put things in writing that will provide an excuse for firing them, if they ever need to be fired. Which why it feels so crappy to write them, and why people have this urge to say something fire-able in them: it's like the impulse to jump off, when you're near the edge of a cliff.)
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 03:17:51 PM by koshtra »

Schaefer Light

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #60 on: October 16, 2017, 01:04:54 PM »
I think your understanding of the job is accurate.  You just don't like the nature of the job and the lack of clarity.  Here are my best guesses re pending issues.

Thanks for the lengthy response.  I had to turn in my review last week, and I basically stated the things that you recommended (how I was supporting my staff, helping them to grow, giving them the resources they need to respond quickly to issues, etc.).  I wanted to throw up when I went back and reviewed what I had written ;).  I'll try to keep your ideas in mind as I go about my daily routine. 

When I became a manager, I really had no idea what being a manager meant.  And since my boss has never told me what I'm expected to do, I've just been making it up as I go along.  I must say that putting people who have no idea what they're supposed to be doing into management roles doesn't seem like the greatest strategy for the long-term success of a company.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #61 on: October 16, 2017, 03:13:36 PM »
I think your understanding of the job is accurate.  You just don't like the nature of the job and the lack of clarity.  Here are my best guesses re pending issues.

Thanks for the lengthy response.  I had to turn in my review last week, and I basically stated the things that you recommended (how I was supporting my staff, helping them to grow, giving them the resources they need to respond quickly to issues, etc.).  I wanted to throw up when I went back and reviewed what I had written ;).  I'll try to keep your ideas in mind as I go about my daily routine. 


Glad it was helpful!

When I became a manager, I really had no idea what being a manager meant.  And since my boss has never told me what I'm expected to do, I've just been making it up as I go along.  I must say that putting people who have no idea what they're supposed to be doing into management roles doesn't seem like the greatest strategy for the long-term success of a company.

It doesn't, does it?  My favorite business professor told me that studies have shown the most fundamental problem in workplaces is systems in which people don't know what they're supposed to do. 

He also gave the definition of a manager's role re their team that you have recognized for yourself - the person who gets them their tools, training, safe working environment, etc.   So presumably you are on track.

If you will permit one more response, though - my original training was in sociology.  From that, plus your description of how your team grew, I suspect that there is a different and more benign pattern in your workplace that should be recognized.  Specifically, perhaps your company operates on an unspoken principle of recognizing and rewarding competence. 

That it's unspoken is clearly confusing to you.  But as a principle, prioritizing competent people over detailed explicit protocols has its merits for an organization.  They include:
1. Freedom to work efficiently instead of following suboptimal procedures.
2. Maximizing the impact of competence wherever competence exists.
3. Reducing the costs of excessive documentation (which some people HATE by the way)
4. Increasing personal involvement (maybe not a big thing for you, but many people hate feeling like robots at their job.  This item could at least reduce turnover)
5. Greater flexibility to adjust to changing conditions.
6. Tends to reward intelligent hardworking people instead of the meticulous idiots who sometimes rise in more structured systems

If my guess about your workplace is correct, several positive aspects about your team's history should be noticed (some of these are speculative):
A. Your belief that when they named you manager they were giving an excuse to pay you a manager's salary may be correct.  Equally true, they value your skills and have taken care to reward them financially.  When/if you job search, be aware that many companies do not do this.
B.  They may also have planned at that point to add more people under you, but just not been ready to move them yet.
C.  Perhaps the company's commitment to competence was such that they like having bit of unused talent available at the management level as a safety valve into which other managers' overtask can be drained when appropriate.  They knew that they would eventually put some people under you. 
D.  The timeline wasn't immediate because you're a utility, not the center of the plans.  They put people under you on their own timeline.  Doesn't mean your job is unimportant or poorly planned, just that they trust and expect you to accept the timeline without taking up bandwidth.
E. They assume competence includes the ability to handle the changes without taking up upper management bandwidth.  Confusing for you, and maybe not optimal, but still a legitimate implementation of the "competence is king" principle.
F. Perhaps when they made you manager, they weren't sure how many people they would put under you.  They just knew that paying you fairly and having the chance to try you out was worth the money.  In this case, they liked the results their experiment, and have happily added people as time progresses.  More could be on the way, get ready!
G. Maybe the plan wasn't detailed, but they will keep adding more if your success creates the opportunity.

The last couple of points remind me of an excellent manager I once worked for.  This individual started out entry level and was promoted repeatedly, eventually supervising hundreds of people in a facility responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.  No one knew this would happen.  She just ran her teams so well that she kept getting promoted.  As an employee, I noticed that it was uplifting to work there because people were implicitly respected, given adequate tools, allowed to grow into their roles, and expected to perform well.

It is possible to have a whole teams or even companies function very well based on rewarding competence at the expense of structure.  At size, a company needs some of each, of course.  Obviously your firm's lack of clarity is personally frustrating for you.  I just wanted to outline that the lack of definition isn't necessarily a moral failing or even a fatal flaw on the company's part.  Rather, it could be just a suboptimal side effect of a positive principle. 

Obviously you don't have to agree (or stop job searching, or anything else).  But if you have other things going on in your life, and the above gives you any peace so that you can focus on one issue at a time instead of trying to pile big career changes on top of personal ones, I will be glad if you feel you can make changes at your own pace.
 
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 03:28:44 PM by Bicycle_B »

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Re: Do you really understand what's expected of you at work?
« Reply #62 on: October 18, 2017, 09:09:33 AM »
Thanks again, Bicycle_B.  You've given me a lot to consider.