Alligators in the Swamp

‘When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.‛

Most managers can easily relate to that statement. It often seems that really important things – initiatives, projects, and ideas that could make a major positive difference – drown under waves of problems to solve and details to handle. Most experienced managers agree that they sometimes feel overwhelmed and out of control when they try to deal with the challenges and changes they face. They describe what they do as something like herding cats or grasshoppers. It’s a job that’s complex, ever-changing, challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, satisfying, and never boring.

The traditional view of what it means to be a supervisor or manager has materially changed in the past decade. You may supervise a team or functional unit with a group of full-time employees reporting to you. But these days you’re just as likely to manage a variety of people working on several different projects. Some of them might be employees. Others might be employees who officially report to someone else. They might be independent contractors. And then there are freelancers who work for several different organizations. In this era of rapid change, globalization, and contract workers, you need to look beyond past notions of what a supervisor or manager does.

What’s your job like? Does it fit the traditional mold or is your position and organization radically different?

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