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.

Charles in Charge / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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