Books: The Hard Truth about Soft Skills

October 14, 2012

A few weeks ago, I attended a required meeting for all supervisors. I’ve never been a supervisor before, and had no idea what to expect. Mostly, the meeting was an update on various policies and other matters that supervisors should know about. (They hold these meetings quarterly.) But it also included a list of new books in the college library on leadership.

I only have one person to supervise, and she’s been doing my job since my predecessor left in June, so right now she’s telling me what I need to do more than the other way around. But I figured it would be helpful to read at least one of the books on the list, to get some idea what kinds of things I needed to know or do.

The one I picked out was The Hard Truth about Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner. I’ve had a number of supervisors who had been promoted because of their technical skills, but who were lacking in people skills. I had never looked for a supervisory position myself because I didn’t want to be a difficult-to-work-for supervisor. But my first day on this job, I learned I was a supervisor. So now I want to learn how to do it right.

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Job and identity

July 13, 2012

I don’t think of myself primarily as what I do at work. At least I didn’t think I did. If asked how I think of who/what I am, I think about being a mother, a pastor’s wife, and a child of God. Even if someone asks specifically about my job, it’s hard to sum it up in a few words because what I do right now is help in several different areas – areas that will have to manage without my help once my position is eliminated in about a month.

So I was surprised, recently, to realize how much it bothers me to be losing this rather ill-defined set of responsibilities. It’s not just the financial impact and the difficulty of finding another job in this uncertain economy – though it is discouraging not to get responses┬áregarding any of the few jobs I’ve found to apply for. (I did finally get one “you do not meet the requirements of the position” form letter from the corporation I currently work for, regarding a position in another department.)

Suddenly there is a lack of a sense of purpose to what I am doing at work. I no longer feel part of a team that I am trying to help succeed. The co-workers to whom I have mentioned this assure me I am still part of the team and they appreciate the work I do, but the sense of being “in this together” is gone for me. I feel like a temporary employee, someone who is working here for the time being┬ábut has no future here.

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