The official announcement went out this morning, so I figure I can blog about it now. A few months ago, my supervisor announced that he would be retiring October 1 and I began working on my résumé. The job posted, I interviewed, and a few weeks later I was awarded the position.
My title will be Lab Support Administrator on Monday (working for Computer Services at Missouri State University). Two years ago I was in the faculty- and staff-focused side of our unit, and our student workers in that group were largely self-tasking and didn’t need a lot of oversight. A year ago I was moved to the student-focused side and suddenly went from interacting with 3-5 student workers to managing 20-30+. It was a completely different and incredibly challenging experience, but despite the hard and sometimes painful work—a lot of paperwork and email, making tough decisions, training and increasing workloads, disciplinary actions, and the other matters that go with management—the job was very rewarding in a number of ways. It is extremely gratifying to train people and see how they succeed at something; to give someone work they can be proud of; to see people leave this position better equipped, and to go on to do bigger and more exciting things.
I care about our student workforce a lot, and I work very hard to take care of them, but I have never thought that really communicated itself to them. Because certain aspects of the interaction is, by necessity, negative, I assumed there was a generally negative view of me. Interactions are always positive, but I’m the boss, and no one likes the boss, right? That has been the most surprising part of this entire process. You see, my old supervisor never really publicized that he was retiring, and I didn’t talk much about the process while it was going on. I didn’t tell student workers that I had applied and the topic only came up with three or four of them during or after the interviews. Nevertheless, word got around and I have definitely felt encouraged and supported by them. Without prompting and generally without even telling me, they have advocated for me and spoken on my behalf. I don’t have a word to describe the feeling that gives me. It’s like a punch in the gut, but a good one… it hits me like silent thunder.
I hope that, through this new position, I can communicate better how much I value our employees and how much I want them to succeed. I want to take care of them and make sure they have the resources they need. To my mind, a manager is part visionary and part servant; they have to come up with the plans and make sure the goal is reached, and organize everyone to do that, but they also need to provide the resources and training needed and take care of their people. I’ve worked hard to take care of the student workers, and it’s just so exciting and heartwarming that some have felt supported and feel good about me.
I’ve got a lot of plans and ideas for the future of User Support, and I’m excited to bring those to fruition. We have a great team of people, and I think we can continue expanding and improving our services to benefit the student body at Missouri State University. I really enjoyed working on the faculty and staff side of the house, but the student side is really exciting; students do a lot of different things, which gives us a lot we can play around with and invent to serve them better. We have an opportunity to impact the student body in powerful and meaningful ways, and I can’t wait to get started.
There is nervousness, and maybe a little terror, but there is also excitement for the possibilities and plans. If you’re a student, faculty, or staff member at Missouri State and have ideas or things you’d like to see, send them my way—come Monday, I’ll be working to make them happen.