Full time work is… tough. Tougher than I expected if I’m going to be totally honest with you. The hardest times are when you first start – you’re at the bottom of the team hierarchy, meaning that anything nobody else wants to do falls onto your plate; you’re slow, as you’re still getting used all of the functions; and you’re probably insanely tired on the weekends after spending 3 years sleeping through 9am lectures as you were too hungover and now suddenly being expected at the desk by 8am. It’s a big lifestyle change.
It gets easier though – you get faster, you get used to the early mornings and most importantly, you start to prove yourself, and once you prove you can do good work and be reliable, the pressure lessons… in some ways. It certainly piles up in other ways, which makes year-to-year stress levels a linear increase as you get more senior, but hours on the desk at least generally trend downwards as the years go on. Time goes on, ageing happens, hirings happen, and you’re no longer the teams’ new joiner – you’re a “permanent hire” now and can hand down some of your old tasks, success!
I’ve been working for 4 years, and I’m still pretty junior within my team structure. But 4 years has been a long enough time to have 2 new-er joiners come in after me, one which I work with more closely these days. Now comes a new task, one that nobody really teaches your how to do: learning not only how to teach, but also in a way learning how to manage others. Whilst you may not not have the official “line manager” title to your name and be in charge of semi-annual reviews, you’re probably working with said new joiner 10x more than their line manager due to your proximity in levels within the team.
It sounds simple enough… right? Teach someone how to do some stuff, ask them for help when you need it, and then be awarded the luxury of being able to put your legs up when it comes to menial tasks you did when you first joined. But through failures and successes in this department over the past 2 years, I’ve learned that it’s not as simple as it looks. If you’re stepping into this territory, there are some things you need to prepare for.
I’ve learned to let go of some of my natural instincts – one thing about me is that I’m quite good when it comes to just… getting shit done that needs to be done. I was that person that in the final hour of a failing team project in school would get my thinking hat on and pull things together with whoever else in the group was on my wave length. Whilst this is a good quality as it makes you very reliable, it’s also a quality that can easily be exploited by others (sometimes “good” qualities are a double edged sword).
When I say “letting go of my natural instincts”, in my case it has learning to let others drive the steering wheel. If you don’t hand tasks down, and fully hand tasks down, you could end up stuck doing the same jobs forever eventually wondering how you found yourself here.
I’d like to say I’m a nice person just with quite low tolerance levels (i.e. I’m easy to piss off) – I remember finding my job extremely difficult when I first joined so I always wanted whoever came in after me to have a different, blissful experience. However, there’s always a balance to be stuck, and you don’t want to err on the side when you’ll find yourself getting walked over. If you’re Nigerian you know the phrase – “I am not your age mate” – this is definitely one to keep at the back of your mind (and it’s an important one, trust me).
It’s time to think about others… One that that makes a good manager is actually taking an interest in the development of who you are managing. This becomes easier the longer you’re at the firm as you have more experience, and vs. the days of running around trying to figure out how to do things as a new joiner, you should have slightly more head space that allows you to think not only about wth you’re doing, but what others around you are doing too.
As I was going through my analyst years, and still today, I’ve always appreciated someone who can make some time to help me out in a constructive way. Setting tasks and teaching is all well and dandy, but we all also need someone looking behind us and guiding us on the not so obvious nuances in our jobs (someone we’d hope will be our cheerleader when all is said and done).
Most people aren’t like you – “When I was an analyst…” is never always a great comparison to make, as everyone is very different and we all enter our jobs with different mindsets. You may manage someone that is keen on not letting a more junior level be a barrier to them and runs away with things; you may have someone that requires a bit more support to get them going. There’s certainly no “right” approach (but maybe just some wrong ones). It’s important to be mindful of these variations from person to person as that will allow you to tweak your approach (and these tips) each time – nobody is going to mirror how you were as an analyst and what your thoughts and fears were at that time, so don’t expect to see a clone of yourself hop onto the desk one day.
Whilst work is tough, one thing I really value in being in the working world honestly is the life experience you get. Learning how to manage others is just one skill that aids your development in all works of your life, and there are so many other skills you pick up in the office depending on your job, be it gaining confidence, becoming more organised, or learning about how all different types of people work. It’s interesting, to say the least…