Archive for July 11th, 2012
The post title is about friends becoming…more than friends (can you name the movie?), but this is NOT about that. It is about the nature of a (professional) relationship changing due to a realization of significance.
I recently accepted a position to be CIO at Menlo College in Atherton, CA. A post about that is in progress but discussions with people motivate me to write this one first.
I have always trusted, respected, and in many parts of my job admired my manager. She is a professional above reproach who still invests herself personally in her projects. She treats everyone fairly. Most importantly, she has been a mentor to me (as much as a manager can ever be a true mentor). She has helped me along from a young, inexperienced (never been a manager before) but presumably filled-with-potential subordinate to someone that has, I think, proven to be an adaptable, strong-willed leader of a group that needed change and realignment. This is no small task for me to have accomplished, and I could not have done it without her support and guidance.
However…when I applied for this new job, even though I respected my manager so much, the concept of trusting one’s direct supervisor to the extent of using her as a direct reference OR notifying her of your intent to apply for another job was foreign to me. It’s still a bit weird, to be honest, but the concept literally did not compute or exist or…anything.
It’s very difficult to explain in writing, to be honest. But I can offer my thought process as an example of how I honestly did not even conceive of this idea before. To me, my instinct is that she is my manager, and therefore I don’t do anything until offer is in hand. As a manager she will take my efforts as a sign of not being committed to my job, lack of loyalty, etc. But perhaps that is too simplistic of a view. In some cases, the layers above that basic reporting structure should be considered. That step – taking time to consider the relationship as unique and distinct from a generic manager-subordinate one – just never happened. It never entered into my thought process.
Looking back (a whopping 2 weeks ago) and having spoken to a few people at very high level executive positions at the school and university, I now realize that in some cases, such a relationship is possible. One has to be careful, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have such a relationship again. But I do feel that it is possible, and I will, in the future, consider these extra layers as I look forward in my career.