I am a good friend and officemate but when it comes to work, I want nothing but the best. And in that case, I tend to micromanage.
Not that I didn’t produce crappy results since the beginning of my professional career but I want the work I delegate to be taken seriously and given attention and passion the way I do.
If you’ve been through some of my posts, you would know that my work had been my social life. It still is. It’s not a drag, nor something that I wish would be over soon the moment I wake up. I love my job, I’m happy and fulfilled. In other words, it’s the extension of myself. It’s a part of me. IT IS ME.
My work is the reward in itself.
I’ve had my shares of downs in my career when I didn’t know a thing of what I was doing. But since I am so eager to learn and be better, I used those depressing times to dig deep into certain aspects of structural design that I don’t fully understand. I’ve read. I asked. I abused my calculator and used tons of paper to work with my calculations. And sure enough I found answers.
And lately, I’ve been handing down those answers myself to junior engineers who are still taking baby steps towards their continuing improvement.
I don’t claim to be a master now. I’m still learning and will always love learning especially in my chosen craft. It’s just that I am no longer qualified to be called a greenhorn. I’ve already grown a considerable size of tough horns out of my obstinate head.
So why all this ruckus?
It’s very frustrating for me wasting my time and effort explaining something over deaf ears. I’ve experienced talking to juniors who are not listening – who do not want to listen, rather. I can tell if a person I’m talking to is listening or is just pretending that he does.
And the problem is they don’t even ask. They pretend they know their way out. And when the moment of truth comes, I would know, albeit too late that the methodology used is all wrong. It’s very easy to ask. Doesn’t take the whole day to ask, does it?
The next thing that I’m so frustrated about is a structural model that’s not thought of properly.
While I know that it takes a certain degree of experience to create a quality model, I can tell if it was done in a delinquent or “bahala na” manner which is a very irresponsible way to do it. Structural modelling should be done with utmost care, like procreating. You should do it with passion, it should be put together detail by intricate detail.
I’m relatively new to supervising junior engineers because I am used to doing the job myself. There is fulfilment that comes from piecing it all together and making sense out of the mathematical model in front of me and so I’m hesitant to let that part go and let somebody else do it.
And sometimes, I have this temporary amnesia that I tend to forget that we have different levels of learning capabilities.
The style that works for me in learning my craft is to be left alone to discover things for myself. I ask questions when I get stuck, but I only ask after I’ve already exhausted all the means to answer my own inquiry. Thankfully I have managers whose management style complements my style of learning. I am also thankful for their insane patience with my short comings as I learn further still.
As I’ve said, I am no longer qualified to be called a greenhorn. And as much as I don’t like it, I need to include mentoring to the tasks assigned to me. I’ve been at the front of the battlefield, but now I need to leave my ranks and be a part of trainers of new privates to fill my place. I guess it’s a part of the corporate ladder. And of life in general.
There is a stage where you start from nothing but your guts and your will to succeed. You will not be able to get all the wisdom you need in one seating, nor will you be able to read everything you need in one book. A big chunk of learning is dependent on the TAE method (trial and error). And effective learning is experiential learning. Just like in structural engineering where one may know all the contents of a textbook. But without experiencing the issues firsthand, the engineer’s nothing but a mere storage drive where files are kept instead of a walking and thinking human being.
And there is this stage where we need to start weaning the young ourselves. Whether we like it or not, we’re no longer the young anymore because we’ve already learned a lot now. And if there’s a reason why we’ve learned our lessons and we’re still alive is that we are meant to share what we’ve learned.
It’s now time for us to hand those wisdom down to the juniors who need our guidance because as of now, they don’t know a lot yet about what they’re doing. They need someone to show them another way out because they will run out of ideas on how to get their asses off the rut they’ve been stuck into.
The juniors need our patience as they step forward, shakily at first. They will fall as a result of piecemeal experiential learning. They need our patience to be there when they fall occasionally to tell them to stand once more, and for us to tell them to keep going.
The juniors need our presence so that they have someone to look up to during the trying times. They need someone to serve as an inspiration to remind them that “this man has been through a lot and yet he successfully overcame all those resistance. He’s one tough motherfucker. I want to be like him.”