Defined Success and Role Clarity

If you have been following my blog, you know that I recently went through a burnout phase. Now I have begun a learning and analysis phase. I am definitely on the upswing of things.

So why do I wander my house filling unfulfilled?

Who wants to work late? I… do…?

An odd thought occurred to me recently. I have no reason to work late hours or on the weekend. It was disturbing to even think about because, “who ever wants to put in long hours?”

I sat down to ponder this with the assumption that I am misinterpreting some other feeling. Do I really miss working long hours? Am I actually just experiencing a vacuum? Maybe I was so used to working those hours that now I am just experiencing simple boredom because I have not filled the hours which are now empty.

That did not feel correct, though. I know boredom and I know how to deal with it.

I built a colony of space traveling survivalists
I built three ever more complicated airports
Tri-Terminal Triumph was quite the Triumph
I felt that complicated operations and logistics was not mentally stimulating enough, so I started building my own SimStore

What was the issue?

The issue was that I was trying to prevent myself from rebounding away from over-responsible all the way over to under-responsible. Somehow, though I ended up with a team that has certain expectations of me while my internal perspective of my role had shifted. Furthermore, my role shift is interpreted differently between myself, my project manager, and my boss.

I have found myself in a situation where I will never work late hours because I have stopped feeling accountable for any specific thing.

Accountability and working late

Here are some assumptions which I believe you will agree are undisputed facts or maybe at least close to facts.

  • We will have days where our productivity is reduced. This could be for personal reasons or professional ones, such as too many meetings in one day or unexpected disruptions.
  • We will have other days where productivity is optimal.
  • Deadlines and expectations do not necessarily shift based on your day to day productivity.

Given those assumptions, I can deduce that the nature of productivity ebbing and flowing will create situations where you will have an obligation and you will either define success as just putting in your 8 hours and going home or you will define success based on delivery.

My conclusion then, is that I do not miss working late but I do miss feeling the sense of accomplishment which comes from carrying the burden of accountability and being successful. At this time, there is not a single task that I can think of which would drive me to urgently add a few hours to my day so that I can deliver on-time.

Role clarity

Above I describe a feeling. However, that feeling is not an accurate representation of reality. The truth is that I very much have work which is important and needs to get done. The challenge I am having is role clarity.

When it feels like your roles are spread across two or more people, or they actually are, then you never feel the full weight of it. When someone can point an undeniable finger at you and declare the success or failure of something as yours to own, you feel that expectation as a physical weight.

With my recent realization that three of the major leaders of my project all have different opinions of where I need to prioritize my time. It is important for me to flush out my roles’ definitions and gain deeper clarity. This will enable me to hold myself accountable for discrete deliverables and activities which will in turn make me concerned about whether my productivity is at risk of making me working late.

This will be a comfort not a stressor, however, because I will simply put forth the requisite effort to deliver, on-time, without overtime.

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