I thought I was in the right career. I worked hard doing all the things expected of me and enjoyed doing them. Because of my good performance, I got promoted twice and now at age 34, I’m a supervisor. But I find that handling my subordinates and motivating them to work as hard as I do is draining me. So I find myself doing the things that they should be doing and these on top of my work as supervisor. I find myself drained of energy and zest. I no longer find enjoyment in my work. I’m no longer a good mother to two kids who look forward to my arrival at the end of the day so I could help them with their homework and play with them. I often bring work home which frustrates me no end.
I have only three direct reports. One of them is older than me and more senior. He tends to question some of the things I ask him to do. Sometimes he doesn’t do them at all. The other one always finishes his work hurriedly so he can do other things that he likes to do such as the internet. Yet his work does not meet quality standards. The third subordinate is new and makes mistakes. But I have no time to develop her as I have many things to do.
I want to change my career to my current strong interest which is to be a chef. I look forward to weekends when I can prepare delicious meals for my family, read cookbooks and try out new recipes, experiment on new recipes, etc. The problem is I can not pursue this career because I need my job and the regular pay and the benefits I get. Changing career will require my time and energy to study culinary arts and gaining mastery to be recognized as a chef. I can not afford to make this career shift now.
What shall I do in my present job? Shall I change my career path?
Mrs. Drained Out
You are in the right career but not in the right career path. You can, however, learn leadership skills for a management career path if only you have the self-motivation. Withdrawing from your leading role will not help you develop self-confidence and enhance your emotional intelligence.
You are in a management career path which involves delivering your objectives through and with people. On the other hand, a professional/technical path which you can explore with your superior and with the HR head of your company, requires mastery of skills related to particular tasks in a functional area. This requires you also to be a coach and mentor by sharing these skills with others in the company or dealing with teams that need your service. So whether you are in a management or in a professional path, you work or interface with people.
Right now, what you need to do is to develop your assertive communication skills. Have a one-on-one talk with your senior direct report and ask him what his objection is to doing the tasks you are asking him to do and how he plans to do it, if he has his way. Be open to his suggestion. If you like it, let him do it. If he does it well and delivers it on time, express your appreciation. Obviously he needs recognition. As for the second person who hurriedly does his work, you need to call his attention to this habit and tell him that doing the internet during office hours is a no-no. Give him a list of tasks to be done according to the requirements of his position and the due date of each. Obviously he is a fast worker and requires more challenging assignments. Ask him what additional things he can do well. Give him credit for doing them. He is a talent that you need to nurture and keep for the company’s talent pool. As for your third employee who is new, you need to coach her, observe her work performance, give positive feedback for performance according to agreed-on standards, to build her self-confidence and motivation to improve, and give negative feedback to correct wrong work behaviors before she develops bad habits. By doing this, you make her productive and a contributing member of your team. You can not just leave her alone, justifying your negligence because you “have many things to do”. Developing her is your important duty.
Doing the tasks of your employees is not helping them grow and develop and not helping you either. You are not developing your leadership skills. This is the reason why you feel exhausted, burned out and drained because you have added their tasks to yours. Your heavy work load makes you dissatisfied with your work so that you are now thinking of cop-out by changing your career path and even your career.
Being a good supervisor and enjoying it requires a stewardship mindset in which you see that your important leadership role is developing and enhancing the knowledge, capabilities and skills of your employees by coaching them and giving them useful feedback on what they do well and correcting them for errors or below-standard performance. Being able to do this will also make them respect you. As you develop their skills and enhance their knowledge, your work load will ease up and you will have time to do the things that only you can do. You can also have time for your family.
It is important though that you see your supervisory role as a privilege given you to contribute to the success of your company by developing its human assets. Be open to learn the important leadership tool of coaching your direct reports, learning assertive communication skills, assessing the performance of your direct reports and giving positive reinforcement to maintain productivity at a high level and giving negative feedback to correct behaviors and attitudes. This can all be learned and when applied on the job consistently, you can see positive results which will enhance your job satisfaction and increase your emotional intelligence as well.
Your inclination towards a career in culinary arts because of your interest, aptitude and skills in cooking and creating recipes, entails substantial time investment which no doubt you have already considered. With your interest, skills and creativity in cooking, you could be a caterer on week-ends by preparing and marketing your specialty dishes among your neighbors and friends. As satisfied customers spread your name, your reputation will grow and perhaps this is the time to consider a career change. But again being a caterer could also be very challenging. I suggest you interview some caterers and chefs about this possible career option before you seriously consider a career change.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria