March 30, 2018

∴ My boss retired today

Cleaned-out, empty office where my boss used to workHe’d announced his intention a few months ago and followed through shortly after with the paperwork. His words at the time left me remotely unsettled, but I wasn’t expecting his departure to affect me so personally.

Joseph came to work with us about three-and-a-half years ago during a particularly turbulent time in our facility. We were implementing a replacement of our automation system fully five years behind schedule and buggy as hell. If that weren’t enough, he had the misfortune of inheriting management of a difficult employee. No, it wasn’t me.

The first year and a half were rocky for him, and for us. We got through operational readiness of our new system, and the morning our problem child departed for good there was an air of unspoken celebration in our office. The rest of his time managing our group and our work turned out enjoyable for everyone.

An old adage holds that some manage people well, some manage projects well, but few do both. Joseph was an exception. He not only competently managed both completion of our new system as well as the ensuing year of reorganizing our region’s arrival and departure routes, but did so without my ever feeling the weight of our large organization bearing down on me.

Early in his tenure, I was moved to remark to Kelly that although I didn’t know where he’d gotten his managerial experience, he’d sure figured me out. Part of managing our problem child was managing how the child affected the rest of us. My first closed-door meeting with him occurred in week two. It was a fruitful and enjoyable working relationship from that day forward.

Management is a skill. I don’t know where one gets it; it isn’t taught, at least not in my world, and I doubt anyone is a born leader. I don’t think I have this skill, but the guy who just walked out our door does. I was pleased to tell him all of this in the days before he left. I’ve not ever directly complimented a superior in this way in a nearly thirty-one-year career.

Joseph and I are very similar people. Our worlds revolve around our wives, who are our rocks and our confidants. Professionally we both bear the same marks of having successfully trained and worked as air traffic controllers; the general attitudes of do your job and do not waste my time permeates how we do what we do. Fit within those lines and we can enjoy each others’ company. And I suppose we did, which is why today bears more than a little sting.

I shook his hand, wished him well, and told him to take care of himself. He’s the first departure from my career I genuinely mourn. Our two other long-time specialists feel the same. He was a good boss, a willing ear, and a pleasure to work with. I’ll miss him.

#retirement #management #employment

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