My field is changing faster than ever, with technology transforming the landscape and even the questions we ask, and changes tumbling over each other faster than I can keep up with these days. The conference made that even more clear. It was wonderful to be exposed to new options and ideas and be challenged to deal with them.
But I was overcome in one session with something that I finally identified as grief. Grief that what I know and understand has lost its value and been replaced by things I understand only partially or not at all. I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything that has to be turned upside down and relearned or reshaped – and as the supervisor, it’s my job to direct the relearning of the department. How can I do that when I’m just treading water myself? It’s so very hard.
I’m good at what I do and have been doing it for twenty years. But I’m getting tired. In talking to colleagues who came into management the same time that I did, I discovered that many of them are also feeling overwhelmed and burned out, by personnel and management if not the technology itself that is driving the changes. We like a lot of what we do but we need some way to get our heads above water, to see how to handle the changes and not drown in the process.
When I started my first management job, I had someone on my staff who resisted moving to an automated system tooth and nail. It drove me crazy because the new system was so obviously better than the old one. But now I get it. I’m turning into that person – I’m grieving the loss of control and knowledge and the feeling that I know what I’m doing, to have to step into the unknown, the uncertain.
I can learn new things but I need to take care of myself and listen to my own reactions, both for myself and because they will give me insight into how my staff will react. And then I need to listen to the staff before we jump into decisions. I didn’t do that with Mona and it was a mistake. We are facing sea-changes and it’s worth taking the time to do it right – but not too long.
I’m really tired right now. Conventions do that to me, all that “on” time for days in a row, with billions of meetings and people to see and things to learn. Travel itself isn’t restful on jam-packed planes and being stuck in detoured traffic. And I have another trip coming up in a few days. So this weekend is about restoring myself and I’m taking a friend’s advice to get a massage to help me unwind. A pedicure is also on the agenda. Pampering – priceless.