Be Your Own Boss

I started to listen to WorkLife with Adam Grant last week and the episode on “A World Without Bosses” struck a chore. To be your own boss, you need to work for yourself. With a family to feed and my sans-savvy business skills, working for myself is not an option. Fortunately, I have built a responsible, reliable reputation for myself that I can be my own boss in an institution.

My boss has given me the complete freedom to do my job. I have earned her trust to make my own design and technical decisions. I still run them by her, but she lets me make the call. I work directly with members of the law school community as well as the people outside. The freedom allows me to balance my work and life. I take complete ownership of all my responsibilities. For example, I don’t mind making an update to MODX in the middle of the night when no one is using the system. Likewise, I can take time off when one of my kids got sick.

Flexibility is the key to employee retention. With three kids and one more on the way, flexibility is crucial to me and my family. I cannot work in an environment that lock me in from 9 to 5. I had been there before and I was miserable and depressed. I do not want to go back to that.

Before I was promoted to Director of Design and Web Services, I was interviewed for another position. When I asked about flexibility, the new supervisor told me that she can be very flexible but I have to earn it. That’s fair and I understood her perspective, but I didn’t have a year to build up the trust. One of my kids would probably needed me the second day on the job. How am I going to earn her trust? When she made the offer, the salary was good, the people seemed nice, the job was not bad, but the flexibility had me worried.

I thought about it some more and decided to talk to my current boss. I was honest with her about the whole situation. She understood and valued our working relationship. She not only promoted me, but also matched my new salary with 10 percent more. I decided to stay and turned down the new job. I am glad that I talked to her. My wife and I were pleased that I stayed.

My boss also promised to get me a part-time web developer and she did. He has been helpful in taking care of daily requests, which allows me to focus on bigger projects. I want to get him to the point where I don’t have to send him tasks. I would like him to take ownership of his responsibility just like what my boss has done for me. My goal is to improve our web experience by making pages load faster and more attractive. When requests are low, he can find issues to work on such as cleaning up pages with spaghetti markups or creating new banners. I would also love to see him initiates projects that are beneficial to our sites. We are not quite there yet, but I really appreciate his contribution so far.