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Thread: Career Question...Management?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Career Question...Management?

    Life is very short and unpredictable. I have purposfully short circuited my career in Orthopedic surgery at the age of 46 to be able to have half my time now for photography which is really the passion that I have had since childhood. You know in your heart what to do. Follow your passion. I suspect management is not it. My wife always reminds me of the following quote when thinking about "what to do":

    Don't ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive And then go and do that Because what the world needs Is people who have come alive

    Harold Thurman Whitman

    Follow your passion; the rest is just "stuff"


  2. #12

    Career Question...Management?

    I think that this is a great opportunity for you to learn about yourself, no matter what you decide. I suggest that you clarify for yourself why you are in this job. Writing your thoughts down with pen and paper may help. Get into as many specifics as possible.

    Following are some questions that I would suggest. Some of them may seem obvious, and those may be some of the most important. Are you in this particular job for the income? Because you get to photograph? Because of the people that you work with? Some combination of those? For different reasons? If it's a combination, which part is the most important?

    And also:

    If you could reengineer your job so that you would enjoy it more, how would you do it? Is there another job that you dream about having? If you could retire and do anything, what would you do?

    As you answer the second set, throw "practicality" to the winds. Your answers might seem far-fetched ("If I could retire and do anything I would live on a tropical island, photograph architecture all day, and sip cool drinks when I got tired."), but they will help you realize the things that you enjoy.

    When I had an important decision to make I considered questions like these, and they helped me very much. Once I answered them I was able to make very specific decisions about how to do the things that I wanted to do.

    Good luck!

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

    Career Question...Management?

    jnorman ....... While I don't disagree with the previous posts, I don't think they say enough. It's too easy to say "do what makes you happy" without knowing the intimate details that only you know. So I'll play devil's advocate. No one lives in a vacuum. We all make decisions everyday that, although personal, affect many others in unexpected ways. From your post, I get the impression that these people who are on your team are very supportive and (am I reading too much into this?) like you enough to want you at the helm. Their motives (other than the one you mentioned) may be varied, but they could be looking to you to secure the stability of the department, and the working environment. You are a known...and an experienced and trusted coworker. You know how to do it, and what is required to make the unit run smoothly. You have seen their side of the fence. Coming from an industry background, I understand this situation and what can happen when an "outside" manager assumes a new position. Your life would be as miserable as others if it turned sour. Maybe more so, as you are the biggest threat to an ambitious and ruthless egocentric manager. It is a tough decision to say the least. But ask yourself....just how much does the job, the team, the working environment and the 15 years you've invested mean to you? Would a management position reduce or otherwise affect your personal photography time? Big decision. I do not envy you (well, maybe a little!)

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Career Question...Management?

    You have to go with your heart on this one. Think about the responsibilities, activities, etc., involved in the mgt. position and whether or not you are attracted to them. It sounds like part of that would be the fulfillment of helping others succeed. If they sound alluring, then consider going with the management position. I think it's going to be difficult to know whether you would enjoy management without actually giving it a try. You might be pleasently surprised.

    If you don't like it, it sounds like you have enough stature in the organization that you could step back into your former position.

  5. #15

    Career Question...Management?

    Another vote for doing what your heart says. I learned along time ago to trust my initial convictions! Years ago I started second guessing myself and in the long run it caught up to me. Do what your heart says and be happy. I too want to keep shooting and probably would be happy otherwise but I am only 43 so anything can change. Good luck! Cheers

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Jun 2000

    Career Question...Management?

    From my experience, stepping into management becomes a major drain on the non-bureaucratic aspects of one's career. I don't know the specifics of your management structure, but I don know most anyone who has gone into management will agree that a majority of your time is meetings, taking heat for those your manage if they screw up, getting heat from above when you screw up, having to defend and justify budget concerns, enforce rules and regulations and become arbitrator on disputes. Plan on taking work (and worries) home if you don't already.

    You probably know all this already, but I believe that management will not only eliminate your shooting on the job, but will probably eat up time that you may have available now away form work.

    Where my career is presently I have had opportunities to go into management with substantial increase in pay. I see a lot of managers with nice cars and houses and all they do is bitch about how much they work. I would rather have less material goods and spend more time with my family and other interests. Like I said, the situation where you are may be totally different, but I would carefully check the depth of the pool before you dive in.

    Also, if you have a team that works under you, why can't you help them along without being in management.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Oct 2001

    Career Question...Management?

    i would like to thank each of you for your thoughtful comments. between you, you have captured the essence of this problem and its possible solutions, and i really appreciate it. i know in the big picture this is a small problem, but it is my life and sometimes it is just hard to know which way to go. i am going to let this play out and see what happens - i will have to interview with a panel of upper managers, and at the end, instead of asking some lame-o question, i plan to ask them to describe to me the things about their jobs which they find gratifying. if any of them are able to mention some of the issues that i think are imnportant (some of the same things a few of you said), i may take the position. again, thanks so much for all your responses - you guys are pretty great!

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Jan 1999

    Career Question...Management?

    Hey jnorman, we've written to each other in the past. I do what you do (but for only 20 years). I'm 45. There is nothing that would ever get me to give up shooting unless it was literally taken away. Steve Clark's comments above are very poignant in that regard. One can feel very humbled and I've caught myself belly aching for no good reason. Cheers for his miraculous recovery! But life is too short and uncertain to give up on what you love, unless there is a compelling reason. Modern living is causing people to spend more and more time working for a living rather than living and working towards that end. If you can stomach the potential of coexisting with a new manager who might not do things the way it has always been done I'd stay where you are happy and turn the reins over. Or the compromise thing suggested later is good. If they will allow it co-manage with a trusted colleague and share the photography. Or better yet, I'll come out and share the photography with you! I was very impressed with your program when I saw a paper on bridge rehab at the Historic Roads conference in Morristown, NJ a little over a year ago. But if managing the program is something that you can live with in all honesty, and you can turn the creative end over without feeling like you have to micro manage it, and you can't disappoint your bosses, and you can find creative outlets elsewhere, go for it.

  9. #19

    Career Question...Management?

    There is certainly a lot to consider. Number one is, will you still have the same job security you have now? Managers are disposable these days. I was struck by one statement you made about passing on what you know to the younger guys. I think that is extremely important in these days of instant and disposable everything. I have a feeling that it is important to you also. I honestly can't say if you can do a better job of passing your experience along as a co- worker or as a manager. If the current situation at work needs fixing, you will be in a much better position to fix things as a manager. You are right about losing the chance to shoot on a daily basis. I found out when I was a manager that I had my feet stuck under the desk all the time trying to solve problems that came from both above and below. It was a love-hate relationship job for me. Consider also future physical condition. Will you still want to lug equipment around 5-10 years from now? I think most photographers are most productive and innovative in their 50's, but take it from one who knows it gets more difficult from a physical standpoint as the years pile up. I realize this is a lot of rambling, and I will end it without giving advice. Good luck with whatever you decide. Let us know.



  10. #20

    Career Question...Management?

    Lead and don't look back. jj

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