10 Things I Don't Like About My Job
I've held my job now for six years (1 1/2 as a contractor, nearly 5 as FTE), and I've said right from the beginning that if I had to have a job, this would be just about the perfect one. Mostly. This week I have to stretch a lot to fill ten items. Most of these are of the "double-edged blessing" variety where really I'm looking at both sides of the same coin and choosing to tell you about the seamy underbelly. (How's that for mixed metaphors?) In reality, I love my job and hope to keep doing it until I retire in oh, say, 20 years or so... unless I win the lottery this week.
- My boss has cancer.
This is by far the worst thing about my job, bar none. She is the best manager I've ever had (I've had a few real stinkers, and she's totally at the other end of the scale from them), and she's a totally remarkable person that has a passion for helping people in need. Also a great mentor from whom I've already learned tons.
- It takes time away from my writing.
This year has been exceedingly busy. Usually I have a slow period from February through April, but my boss was diagnosed in January, and I've been doing my job and much of hers ever since.
- It takes time away from soccer.
I love to travel for business on short trips. For this job alone I've traveled to at least fourteen states for meetings or conferences, and every one of them was well worth the trip. But if I'm not here, it means I can't get out on the pitch and kick a ball around. When I don't get to play soccer, I get very, very cranky.
- Too many tasks, too little time.
This falls under the category of "we expect a lot from our small but mighty team." Shortly before my boss was diagnosed last winter, the other of our three-person team left for another job within the same company. He took with him a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge. Although he has been around to help, and although the replacement we got is a real star performer, we expect so much of ourselves that it would have been a real disappointment if we didn't do even better than our last five years, which were all better than the prior years.
- I don't get paid enough.
I took this job knowing that would be the case. I could take a programming or software product management job for probably a 70% increase in base salary, but then I wouldn't be where I am, doing what I do. Still, it's been a tough year doing two (or more, at times) jobs for less than my market value. I do believe, however, that what goes around comes around, and it will all work out for me in the end.
Most of my career has been in companies of fewer than 50 people. Now I'm in a company of more than 150,000. While this particular position in this particular company is incredibly entrepreneurial and autonomous, the company's size and bureaucracy occasionally gets in the way of good ideas. In particular, if a good project needs funding outside a budget cycle, it's very hard to find money for it, and occasionally opportunities are missed. The flip side, of course, is that many bad ideas also get stymied by The System, and often the bureaucracy will illuminate entire business units that actually can help when you thought you were on your own for a project.
- Processes should serve the people, not the other way round.
With the regulatory environment in our industry, we have to make sure we always dot our T's and cross our I's. (Wait... strike that. Reverse it.) Sometimes this leads to creation of insane processes that require several hours a month of busy work even though the resulting product--usually some plan or other--essentially gets filed away and never used.
- Technology standards are not my first choice.
I do a lot of web application development as part of my job, and my department has standardized on technology choices that aren't my preferred ones. Shrug. I told you I had to stretch to fill ten items this week.
- Formal recognition doesn't come my way very often.
I get TONS of informal recognition, and my job is one of those where even though the company is more than 150,000 people, many of the top managers and senior executives know me by first name. The people I work with are great with thank-yous and such, which is important, but a little more of the formal recognition would also be nice.
- We can't do everything we want to do!
The biggest problem is that with such a small staff, we can't accomplish everything we'd really like to do. We have so much opportunity, so far to go. There are so many ways we could make a bigger impact, but... see items #1 and #4.