Going to be an Interesting Week

Wow, it’s been an entire week since I last had a chance to post anything.  It would be nice if I had another hike to talk about or if I had done a road trip to some ghost town.  Heck, I don’t even have any good photos to post.  No, this update is relating to something I don’t normally like talking about — work.

I have been at my job for nearly eleven years now, including four as the Team Lead for Windows Infrastructure.  Over those years I have had a wide range of experiences, some bad but for the most part they have been good.  This coming week is presenting me with a new experience however — I have one of my own team members leaving us at the end of the week.

I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and many of them have left and moved on to other things.  Sometimes it has been new job opportunities outside the organization, sometimes it is for retirement.  But, this is the first time as any sort of a leader where I’ve lost one of “mine”.

Johan was the first employee where I was directing involved in the process of hiring.  It was all so new and exciting — reading resumes, conducting interviews, weighing the pros and cons of each candidate.  As a lifelong hockey fan I figure this is as close as I’ll ever get to being the general manager of a NHL franchise — trying to put the pieces together to build a winning team.  Adding someone with a particular strength in this area to compensate for someone else who might be weak in that same area but excel in another. 

Over the roughly five years since that first hire I have watched Johan evolve as a staff member.  I admired him for taking on new technologies and become our subject matter expert.  I watched as he advanced from “just happy to have a job” to really wanting to drive our environment forward.  Over time he didn’t settle for just being a valuable member of the team — he wanted more.  He wanted to be more involved with decisions and strategic directions — not content with being a passenger, he wanted to drive the bus.

I always took a certain pride in his progress.  It not only gave me confidence that I could participate in the hiring process successfully but it was also comforting to know I could rely on him.  As a worker Johan was tireless and dependable.  When there was something that needed to be done that no one else wanted to touch Johan would step up and get it done — and done right.  There was a sense of comfort that when my time to move on to bigger and better things I would be leaving the team in good shape with Johan ready to step in and fill my shoes.

That safety net is now gone.  I don’t mean this as a slight to anyone else on the team, but most of them have already told me they have no interest in taking on my role when I leave.  I don’t have that natural successor that let me have the luxury of planning my future without worrying about what would happen to my team.

I guess the good news is that, with nothing on the horizon, I don’t need to worry about that at the current time.  I can just concentrate on getting through this next week and then dealing with the aftermath that will follow. 

More than just being a valuable team member, Johan was my “go to” guy when I had problems I needed to discuss.  When the pressure of the job was too much Johan was the guy I could drag for a walk so I could talk it out.  Johan was my moral compass, keeping me on track when my ego started taking over from my common sense.  Johan was not a “yes man” — he would be the first to stand up and tell you if you were wrong and he could always back it up with logic and reason.  Having someone like that on the team is worth a lot — all too often people are only interested in telling people what they think what they WANT to hear and not what they NEED to hear. 

Johan isn’t just taking a lot of skill with him when he goes…he is taking a friend.  You’ll be missed, man.  Let’s make sure your sendoff on Thursday is one for the ages!

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