Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Only Way Is Up

I have recently reached a professional milestone: My current place of work has achieved the status of also being the longest employer of my adult life. Sounds scary, doesn't it? I clearly remember posting here about my job search and the tricky experience of starting my then new job.
On one hand, this new longevity record shows that I was perhaps too eager to leave my previous posts instead of dealing with the issues that drove me out. This view is augmented by the undeniable fact I still regard my very first post graduation job at an airline to be the best job I ever had by a significant margin.
On the other hand, staying at one place for too long indicates that I might not be as professionally attractive as I think I am, and also that I might be happy with exchanging cold comfort for change. I cannot deny that at this point in time I don't think I can acquire a more upscale position than my current one no matter how hard I try; I will also not deny that the main attraction of my current position is to do with its comforts rather than the professional challenges it provides.
Such is life when my main role in it is reduced to doing time as my baby's father.

Another milestone was recently achieved at work: A managerial vacancy became available in my team and I applied for it. However, this time around I found myself on the losing side; I didn't get the job.
I am not going to use the rest of this post to ask for pity. I'm actually pretty relieved at not securing this position and staying where I was before. It is, however, interesting to check the processes taking place here and note what it was that drove me to act the way I did.
In general, a managerial post with my current employer is not something to look up to. The balance between responsibilities and authority is too heavily tilted towards the former. You can clearly see the burden piling up on the shoulders of those who take these positions up; it feels like you can start your stopwatch and measure the time before their looming heart attack. It feels as if going up the organizational ladder also means that you're getting closer to the day something will push you out.
There are positives, though. A new position means a change, and a change means invigorating freshness. And boy, could I use a decent refresh! And then there's the money, although once the tax authorities take their share the bit that's left is hardly enough to cover for the new suits I would need to buy in order to allow me to take part in meetings with my distinguished high up the food chain counterparts.
Between staying where I was and going up the ladder, my rational tells me that staying is the perfectly obvious winning choice. Yet I have applied for the promotion, probably solely for the reason that it's perceived as a step in the "up" direction. Go figure.

Another interesting observation I have had with my application and interviews is to do with the impression I leave on others. For reasons that seem to elude others, I'm the type of person that likes to smile and make the occasional joke. Yes, even during tough times and during serious discussions. What is the use in being serious all the time if it makes people feel like they're attending a funeral rather than the place they spend most of their awake time in? And how invaluable is a good laugh when the seriousness of the discussion makes people forget that what's at stake is not the end of the world but rather a pretty meaningless issue in the grand scheme of life.
Yet it is obvious that most people interpret my behavior as lack of seriousness. They disregard the things I actually do and remember my moment of un-seriousness instead, thus losing me the battle of perceptions. Go figure.


Uri said...

Wish you were here?

BTW, wasn't leaving El-Al the start of what came to be your new-and-improved life?

Moshe Reuveni said...

There were definitely good reasons for leaving El-Al. Things like doubling my salary (and getting untangled from all the politics there). Job wise, though, in the sense of what I did at the office, it was the most interesting job.
As far as "new and improved lives" are concerned, I think I can point at several milestones but I don't think leaving El-Al was one of those. What I do think is that the milestones taking place post El-Al might have never happened if I wasn't to leave El-Al, but then again who knows what might have happened in a parallel universe...