For some reason, I’m reminded of the title of a 1980s sitcom. No, my name is not Charles, thank you for reminding me.
My manager arranged to go on leave over the fortnight school holiday period, and in his pre-holiday euphoria he decided to leave the responsibility of performing his duties with myself.
Almost immediately after his departure, things began to go beserk. A rash of strange and urgent issues cropped up, and that was on top of the unfinished business he had left us with (although to his credit, he did his best to minimise that). Things which were seemingly complete reared their ugly heads once more, and I was left to tidy the mess.
I took the role most seriously, to the point of putting in one or two extra hours of work per day. I was stressed to levels that I had not experienced in years. I’m so incredibly grateful that this leadership stint coincided with TAFE holidays, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.
An important skill is an ability to juggle many tasks at once. I am not terrible in that respect, but you could not exactly call me adept, either. Had I had more experience (lower context switching latency, etc.), I might have completed tasks more quickly, but we were so overworked that I don’t think the difference would have been significant.
I was painfully aware that once my fortnight was over, I would have to revert to my previous status and once again work on an equal level with these people. I certainly did not wish to burn any bridges. This forced me to walk a tightrope when it came to weilding authority.
Communication is certainly the key to effective management. I would not have gotten anywhere without constant liaison with my co-workers and other managers in the company. On the whole (and despite a few stressful incidents), I was well supported by everyone else in the company. As a caretaker, I did not consider it to be my place to make any policy changes, but certain circumstances forced us to adapt. Under advisement from above, I implemented a few tweaks to our procedures, hopefully for the better.
My manager has been back for three days, and only today do I feel like I’m back doing my old job and not his. There were a few odds-and-ends to tie up even after his return, and it took him a little while to get back into the groove as well. I think we have both re-found our respective places, though. The feedback I have received has been very positive, and I have been asked to consider taking on certain duties on a permanent basis. I’ll have to take some time to reflect upon the past couple of weeks before I can give an appropriate answer.