I was chatting with a friend and former co-worker of mine today, and asked him why I was never a part of the group guiding where the company was going. (Okay, I actually asked why I was never a part of the management, but in retrospect that was the wrong question, for reasons detailed below. I should have asked the question I said above.) His answer basically boiled down to “You never wanted to be.” One of the things he mentioned was that when I traded salary for extra vacation days (something I was fairly proud of thinking of, since it makes me an easier sell to the CFO, and the two are pretty much equal, if you’re allowed to cash out unused vacation days), it indicated that my priorities lay more with my family than with the company, with the unspoken implication that that attitude isn’t one that will lead to a position of power within the company. That initial assumption led to a series of misunderstandings, and miscommunications, until I was effectively shut out of helping to guide the company.
I guess that’s fair enough, kinda, but it’s a shame that people think that having interests outside of the office means that I’m somehow less interested in the success of the company. Particularly since I didn’t take the vacation days, and was always intending on cashing them out. So, for my next job, I think I’m going to take that option off the table, since I didn’t use the vacation days anyways. (I had 27 days built up when I was laid off!)
I also asked him what I could do to get into management next time, but I’m not really sure that’s really where I want to be. I know a few people who have moved into management, and then found it hard to get a job when they were laid off. Along the same lines, I still believe I’m a far better architect and coder than manager, and so it’s sort of foolish for a company to hire me for my managerial skills when my coding skills are far superior. And I really really like programming. Really. With the spare time I had after I was laid off, I wrote code for an iPhone game. For fun I read up on programming languages I haven’t seen before, and solve Project Euler problems with them. But I don’t know if there’s a way to parlay my architecture and coding prowess into the ability to help guide a company, since that seems to be the exclusive province of people who manage other people. (Of course, my work on Basie last term also has me wondering if I’m actually a mediocre manager, or if I may be better at it than I always thought I was.)
I suppose there’s always one way to find out how good a manager/team lead I am, and I expect I’ll start moving that direction in my next job. I can always write code on evenings and weekends, right? Well, either way, it’s not something I’ll worry about until I get another job. And certainly not something I should be worrying about this late at night.