Monday, April 02, 2007

On pushing your limits

I don't talk about work much in this blog, for a few reasons. The biggest is the most obvious: I don't want this showing up on some corporate legal radar. The last thing I need is the guys in suits actually thinking I'm a liability (or more of a liability than they know I am!).

So. I'm finally taking one of the classes that lots of managers here take -- it tries to cram in all aspects of being a manager into 3 days. Leadership, business acumen, personal growth, all of it. And the pre-requisite (not required, but strongly recommended) is a "skills assessment."

The assessment takes the form of a 5-hour simulation of being a manager. You sit at your desk and handle email, calendar, and telephone. You have dissatisfied employees, demands from peer managers, all kinds of problems. It seems that the goal is to put you under enough simulated pressure to expose your weak areas, so you know what to focus on.

This does not sound, in the least bit, fun.

And yet my manager sings its praises, nearly constantly. He says the simulation was more important for his development than the follow-up course.

This is coming up in a couple weeks. I'm fairly nervous about it, for a lot of reasons. But it boils down to, "what if they tell me I suck at this?".

What's odd is that I would have no such fears about a technical challenge of this nature. If I took a 5-hour assessment of my technical skills and learned that I am good at half of it and suck at the other, I'd be glad to know that, so I could start working on the other half. But that's because I've known I'm good at the technical side of things, for a long time. Maybe if such a test had been handed out in my freshman year of college I would be just as nervous. Or maybe it's because management is made up of "soft" skills, and I have it in my head that if I'm bad at them, there's no improving it.

It doesn't make much sense, but there it is.

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