I remember when I was a recruiter, we all used to gather in a small, whispering pack and complain about having to write our “midyear”. We used to have midyear reviews, now we have midyear career discussions. There’s a difference. Now, it’s not a performance evaluation, it’s a discussion of progress to date against commitments and a conversation about things that a person can develop further to move ahead in their careers; either within their current role or a future role. The conversation itself is primarily driven by the employee (so managers can help them sharpen skills and develop new ones and so that they can make any corrective actions needed before the year end review…..the “real” review).
Last year at this time, I had a bunch of employees transitioning onto my team and took their previous manager up on the offer of them running the midyear discussion. It was a good opportunity to listen and learn. And because I know that my manager rarely, if ever reads my blog, I can tell you that since she was the one delivering the midyears, I learned a lot. Don’t tell her, but she’s kick ass. I can say that because I don’t say it about all my managers or, like, any.
So anyway, this was my first year delivering midyear career discussions on my own. First, in all transparency and self-criticalness (if it wasn’t a word, it is now….hear that iespell?), I have to tell you that I find our in house tools to be a bit challenging. The model rocks and is super thorough but the tools are a bit confusing. Reminder to self: deliver this feedback to the hr tools team.
This year, I delivered 4 midyear career discussions; just finished the last one this afternoon, aside from having my own career discussion with my manager. And let me tell you: I’m freaking exhausted from it. I had resisted managing people for so long, mostly because I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and didn’t enjoy meetings so much. Management was kind of that unexplored territory. I decided that if I was going to choose to not want to do it, I have better do it first so I knew what I wasn’t choosing (right?). What I have found out over the last year and half (I think?) managing people is that it’s more rewarding than I thought, and so much harder. Like, on an emotional level. Honestly, I’m just super thankful to the people that I work with, 360 degrees because I have learned more over the last year about myself personally and professionally than any other year in my career.
Another big struggle for me this past year (can you tell my midyear process is causing me to take an accounting of how things are going in my job?) is the balance between being an individual contributor and a manager. Being able to do both was one of the things I required to jump into a manager role. I still wanted the satisfaction of the doing to go along with the directing and coaching. I think this can work great under the right circumstances. Otherwise, I say be careful what you wish for because you might get it. Talk about a learning experience! Part of the challenge for me was managing so many people new in their roles (creating the strategy for the groups, setting commitments, helping with ramp up). If you consider that I had 3 separate functions on my small team: marketing prospect generation, US programs and research, I signed myself up for a bunch of sharp object whirling toward my head. I couple of them landed with force. Again, lesson learned.
I feel a lot of responsibility toward the people that report to me. Also, I like them (which is incidental because I would take it seriously even if I didn’t like them…haha). Can i just say that I am glad it’s done? Did I need your permission to say that? Probably not. But, uh, phew!
We are also doing some planning for next year and though nothing is finalized/approved yet, it looks like I am going to get the chance to really indulge my ultimate recruiting passion (good gawd, I am competitive….can’t turn it off) and simplify some other things. I’ll still be managing people and I will still be loving my job. But I’m thinking that the things whirling at my head, though probably not more nerf-like, I may be able to catch behind my back and fold into a lovely origami sail boat.
Anyhoo, the tequila fairy is calling my name.