I originally planned this post on January to talk about my professional growth. Meanwhile I was planning this my manager informed me she was leaving. Last Thursday was her last day. She managed me for a whole year and I can’t thank her enough for everything. I’ve been working for almost four years now and I can say I’ve been lucky to meet two great. H is one of them.
I came to London with my translator/copywriter knowledge. So when I arrived at Topshop I was confident about this skillset. But I also knew I lacked project management skills and needed experience working in a big company. I had to adapt to processes and a working culture I wasn’t used to. Also, the age difference took a toll on me (until I realized my path was unique). I’m 29, I’m a digital editorial assistant, and everyone in the same position around me is 22, 23 or 24. I can tell you all this made me feel insecure. I felt paralyzed at some point, wondering what I was doing and above all where I was going. To be honest, if my manager hadn’t been there I don’t know how I would have ended up.
I’ve noticed in the UK managers don’t tell you what you’ve done wrong and like to emphasize on what you did well. In Germany management is different, managers tell you what you did well, but also give you feedback on what needs improvement. It’s almost scholastic. So imagine me arriving in London and having people telling me I’m doing a great job but with no feedback on what I need to work on. This was a total emotional rollercoaster for me. One second I was thinking I was great and the second after I thought I was not good enough. Because I also have to mention that people in the UK (professionally and personally) do not tell you BUT do make you feel something is wrong through their tone or attitude. And for me who is used to direct communication it is exhausting to have to guess.
My manager caught early on that I worked and thought differently because of who I am. That is a foreigner in a foreign working environment. Something I’m afraid to say most British people don’t get. They’d understand though….if you are from an English speaking country like Australia, New Zealand or the USA. But just saying. Coming back to my manager, I truly believe she was the first one to realize there was some adjustment needed from both parties. Meaning I had to understand:
- project management within a big company (briefs have become my best friends)
- communication within a big company
- how to communicate the British way (read less French direct)
On her side I noticed that she understood I am:
- someone passionate about my work
- because of the above I can feel frustrated when I can’t achieve something
- someone with a valuable point of view because of my professional and personal background
All this to say a great manager should be interested in the people composing his/her team. When my manager left Thursday, me and the girls of my team ALL cried. I told this to a former colleague and she went like ‘she must have been great because you don’t even cry for things like that usually’. And I can confirm H. was a wonderful manager knowing she left me sad but feeling confident to carve my path professionally.