It’s always sad to go to funerals, but much more so if you feel there was something that could have been done to stop the person in question dying. I went to the funeral of a colleague – an ex-colleague really, but very much still a colleague to me – on Monday. It was such a surreal thing. He was only my age and he shouldn’t have died. I kept expecting him to wander in when the David Bowie came on at the start of the ceremony.
He was my manager, but what a contrast to the one I had before. It was like night and day. Where my previous manager was totally unsupportive to the point that I felt like I was going into a war zone every day, he could not have been more supportive. I was on a temporary contract for a long time and he took me aside at one point to tell me he had finally got me onto a permanent one. The only problem was that I had just found out that I was pregnant with only son, which was a bit of a shock. I apologised – which, of course, I shouldn’t have felt the need to do – and told him my news. He was really pleased for me, genuinely. He let me work from home after the birth, he trusted me to do my job and he never once made me feel that I was not part of the team. He asked about the kids all the time and spoke about his own, who he clearly adored. He would announce the regular school messages about their achievements to the office. He made it okay to talk about life outside of the office.
I know he helped other colleagues in similar ways. He took time to talk to people, even though he always had 100 things on the go at any given time since he was, for a large part of the time, covering for at least two other people and I’m not sure how much support he himself was receiving to do so. I told him that he was a good manager and that he should not underestimate that. He probably didn’t believe me because he was also very modest, like most of the people who actually get the work done.
He was held in a lot of affection by his colleagues who recognised his commitment to his job and to his team. Managers often have a hard time, buffeted between demands from above and below, but you know when you have a good one. We should value the good ones more.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.