Individual Contributor vs. Manager

Over the past few years, I have been managing more and more and individually contributing less and less.  This is how I scale my value to the company.  I train other people to do what I used to do myself so I can get more output more as a department than as an individual worker.  In general, I have several people I count on to get things done.  When one person goes on PTO, then another is available to take their place.

However sometimes, like this week, I literally ran through all of the people I would delegate to and had to dive in and do the work myself.  In this case, it was Photoshop production work.  This puts a major cramp in my style because I need to spend all my time at my desk instead of interacting with a broad set of people.  Making things with quality takes time and energy.  It’s hard to do this and go to meetings at the same time.

In some ways it is very fulfilling.  In others, it was highly frustrating.  This may help illustrate:

I don’t need things to be perfect, although that is exactly what I strive for.  I can get pretty happy with about 85% quality.  This means 1 out of about 5 things are messed up.  Pretty high rate.  However, I find that when I am doing the work myself that want to spend the time to bump up the quality to 90%+.  When it’s someone else, I think I hold them to a lesser standard.

The frustrating part is that I know I am not spending the time to “do it right”.  I know what it is supposed to be like but just do not have the time.  Not sure where that leaves me.

On a related note: I downloaded and started using Photoshop CS6.  I really don’t see anything that makes me go “oooooh, ahhhhhhh”.  It is lame.

3 replies on “Individual Contributor vs. Manager”

Im sure your staff member on pto appreciates your backhanded compliment.

Glad to read about what kind of manager you are not.

Whatya think?