The last few days at work have been, well, a bit hectic. As an ever so slightly more experienced member of the team, I have been given a fair amount of responsibility, and this has been fascinating me somewhat. It was one of the things that have kept me sane.
I had a conversation one evening with a fellow employee about how he likes pressure, but not stress. Instantly I agreed with him, but then upon trying to define the difference, I couldn’t. I started leaning towards stress being a negative form of pressure, but in truth this isn’t really a satisfactory meaning, as you can be stressed when nothing is exerting any demand on you. I have now come up with an improved idea; stress is when you excessively worry about a problem and pressure is when others worry you excessively about a problem. This got me wondering as to whether you can assure that you have pressure without anyone being stressed, as this would of course be the optimal solution. However, I have my doubts that there is one golden solution, as people are all so different that any management technique cannot encompass all this variety.
As someone who then had to manage a few other people, I was very aware of my own actions and their effects in this area. I was under pressure to make the project meet its deadline and was keen to ensure things were done quickly. I noticed how much little things began to annoy me and how optimisations were springing to mind all over the place. At one point I was alarmed to see someone had left their desk, but then realised they hadn’t disappeared for good, but were just getting a drink or something. My tolerances changed dramatically and updates were needed constantly. I began thinking that I wouldn’t like myself as a manager, but I was disregarding this and pursuing my own wishes regardless.
You see this is why management fascinates me, imperfect people being managed by flawed individuals. The problem they are hired to solve is not technically what you are employed to solve; management’s job is to get the most out of the people. It is a kind of job that requires a balance between sympathising with your staff and making them work as hard as you possibly can. It’s not an easy job, but it certainly is good to watch. I’m fortunate to see three very different manager’s styles at my work, and it’s been very interesting to see how they have handled this week. For a people watcher, watching other people try to manage their team is quite close to heaven.