I was pretty impressed by something my manager did recently. I've shared it with a few other people, but I think this is noteworthy enough for a blog entry. My hopes are that other mangers will be equally impressed and carry out similar acts.
My manager (we'll call him Shaun ... since that's his name) and I were talking about career development during one of our weekly one-on-ones about 8 months ago and I mentioned to him that I would really like to take on some direct reports and more responsibilities at the group-level (of patterns & practices). I've always enjoyed seeing people succeed and am ready for my job to allow me to have a more direct opportunity to influence that more. I've also been in p&p for almost 3 years now and feel I have a deep understanding of what we do and how we do it.
I really shared this with him so he would know what I was thinking - not because I expected him to do anything about it. Actually, I didn't think he could do anything about it. You see, p&p is a small group - only about 30 full-time Microsoft employees. In other words, there is no way for me to move up and stay in p&p unless another manager slot opens up, which isn't likely, or Shaun leaves his position, which I also didn't think was likely. Shaun was basically the second employee of p&p - he and Mike Kropp founded the group.
Of course Shaun also knew there wasn't anywhere for me to go if I wanted to stay in the group (which he knew I absolutely wanted to do). Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was around this time that he began looking for other opportunities outside of p&p. Fast forward to today. Shaun has found a very challenging role in another group in Microsoft and has named me acting* Senior Product Planner. After this week, I will be honored to have Glenn, and Grigori reporting to me and I'll have to hire my replacement (let me know if you're interested).
When he told me that it was my desire to move up that caused him to reevaluate his situation, I was more than impressed. Yes, Shaun has been a fantastic manager (Glenn and Grigori agree) and it is this kind of act that speaks volumes about the kind of person and manager he is. I'm not so naive to think that my desires are the only thing that motivated him to move on, but knowing it was a factor is impressive enough. It's very different from the "yeah, I'll get to move up when Joey Stayput dies" situation we always hear about.
Thank you Shaun. I have some great shoes to fill and I promise do my best.
* Right now p&p doesn't have a leader. Once one is appointed (hopefully in the next 2 weeks) he will decide if I take on the role completely or if he would rather hire someone else into it. So until then, I'm just "acting".