Let's say you make a nice living building doghouses, and out of the blue you find that you're suddenly a kennel owner. That's the kind of bombshell the Boss dropped on me last night. We have a successful little company that's making enough money to support us, and yesterday we dropped a ton of it on a totally new venture, way beyond anything we've ever done.
Yeah, I'm nervous, and a little scared. I'm a pencil pusher, the vortex of all the paperwork the company produces. Suddenly our pleasant summer rain turned into a hurricane, and I'm still the same person I was before. I thought I was working at maximum capacity, and in one day my work load is ten times heavier and about that much more intense. Why wouldn't I be scared?
But it's also exciting. We're kennel managers now, and we've never had to clean cages or walk dogs or choose between the different varieties of puppy chow (he said, riffing manically on the metaphor for all it was worth). This challenge might be what I need to get back some of the energy and enthusiasm that's washed away in the sand over the eighteen years I've been part of the company.
In fact, I've even come up with some ideas that the Boss hadn't thought of. Did the current owners of the kennel include their domain name in the selling price? Do they have billing software set up for the various goods and services we'll be selling now? Do any of our new tenants bite?
It's a lot to absorb in a short time. I think I made some points with the Boss today just by answering the phone on a Saturday morning. He needed something, but he didn't expect to be able to reach me. It's always good to give him just a little more than he thinks I have. That gives me some leeway for the next time, when he asks for something I don't have (or don't want to give him).
In the end a personal relationship between boss and employee can come down to friendship or politics, but probably not both. If it's friendship, it has to run in both directions, and that's been rare in my experience. In fact, it's never happened in my experience, except for what I've heard from other people. I'm sure I believe them, but I have to play the game the way I learned it.
I know for sure that the Boss never gives anything away unless he expects something (more) in return. That's the reason I don't overplay my hand, because I never know when I might need that ace in the hole. Now that there are even more demands on me, I'll probably start holding two or three aces out, just in case. And I'll still make sure he knows he's getting more from me than he possibly could from anyone else.
That part is easy, because I'm convinced it's true.