I have been the interim director of my research institute for the last year. All in all it has been a tremendous learning opportunity: about myself, my organization, and my colleagues. I am gaining valuable skills and experiences. I remind myself of this often.
This week I did two layoffs. These were carefully orchestrated with HR, legal, and data access experts. Thus, I knew that I would have these tasks for several weeks but had to keep this information to myself until the moment I was tasked to bring down the axe (actually my boss did one of these with me for which I am grateful). I read about places like Ford buying out 75,000 workers and it just boggles my mind. I had to arrange this for just two people and it was incredibly challenging. Yes, it was the right thing. Yes, these were the correct people. Yes, my organization will be stronger. But, I still know how this will impact them and their families. It simply sucks. Further, the other members of my organization, who were also kept in the dark but are impacted by these changes, are quite unhappy. I understand this and yet there is little I can do about it. Alas. It is not something I would handle differently in the future.
My position is interesting. I have many things for which I am responsible and held accountable. Yet in many ways there is very little authority or autonomy to my position. It’s a quandry. It’s certainly given me a much better understanding of the limitations of the position. I did not realize this before I was in the job.
My boss is stepping down from his position sometime in the next year. The current internal jockeying for power and favor is simply astonishing. The machinations for tiny scraps of power are incredible. There are these tiny tornados of activity vying for the best position. So many here seem to think that for them to "win" someone else, everyone else, must "lose." Since I am all about "win, win" situations, this "win, lose" belief system is entirely outside of my comprehension. I can observe it to exist and identify those who play by those rules but I simply do not "get it."
To top it off, I may have insulted the wife of the head of my organization today. I made a major faux pas which one of my colleagues was gracious enough to educate me about. I have already sent an apology. Goal for tomorrow: keep my mouth shut.