What Is Your Manager Thinking? 'The Bustle Huddle' Podcast Decodes Office Dynamics

Mint Images/Shutterstock

I can't believe I've been working for over a decade now (I know, I know... don't let the babyface fool you). And over that time, the literal landscape of office culture — especially in the creative field — has seismically changed. When I first started my career as an editorial assistant at a magazine, the dream was to eventually land a plush corner office like Jenna Rink's in 13 Going On 30. But years later, traditional cubicles and luxe solo offices have evolved into open collaborative spaces, which — let's face it — open up a whole new set of dynamics. Should you have to listen to your co-worker's angry breakup phone call firsthand, since she's sitting just a few feet away from you? Is it really OK to work from home? What's the best way to ask to take off vacation — and if I do take vacation, will I look like the jerk who's always out of the office?

Needless to say, it is a lot to consider.

On this week's episode of The Bustle Huddle podcast, we speak to some work-life experts (as well as some actual managers!) who tackle some of the questions you may have about your job, but may be a bit nervous to ask your actual manager. Luckily for me, I have a great manager who has very similar leadership values to mine, especially this one tenet: Being a good manager is all about helping your team. Amanda Chan, Bustle's Managing Editor, joins me in the booth, and shares her career journey as well as the stresses she faces that her team may not know about. "Management, for me, is not about telling people what to do," she shares on the podcast. "It's more about figuring out how they can do what they need to do, and it's [my] job to figure out the best way for them to be able to work unencumbered, essentially."

I also speak with Alison Green, the brains behind Ask A Manager, a site where readers can share their biggest work concerns, and Alison offers practical advice. We ask her as many of your burning questions as we possibly can, in rapid-fire form. But the recurring theme of our convo is that we are responsible for charting our career course, now more than ever. "I think that today, in many fields, you need to be prepared to really think of yourself as the manager of your own career, in a way that you didn't use to need to do," she tells me.

But at the end of the day, managers are human, dealing with a set of different responsibilities than you may have, and they're just trying to figure the best course for the good of your company. Bustle's Editor-in-Chief Kate Ward exemplifies this. She tells me how Bustle went from a handful of editors working in a small townhouse to a company of over 200 employees spanning three floors in a New York City building and across the country. Remember Jenna's high-rise corner office? Kate technically has her own office, but she would rather sit next to her team in the open desk spaces instead. "It was actually something I did not want, until one of my coworkers said that you know, it would be good to do it just for meetings," she says. And that humble spirit from the top is one of the reasons I've loved calling Bustle home this year. "I'm kind of like a bear. I feel like I'm actually more scared of you than you should be of me," she laughs. And even though it's important to Kate to be the warm and accessible leader she's known to be, she does feel a larger set of responsibilities, and that's what can keep her up at 2 a.m.

Lastly, in this week's episode, we tackle that mythical idea of work-life balance. Does it actually exist? We call in the help of Marlee Grace, author of How to Not Always Be Working: A Toolkit for Creativity and Self-Care, for some helpful suggestions to incorporate into your 9-to-5 (or not so 9-to-5) lifestyle. If you feel like you literally have a #NoDaysOff mentality you want to change, don't fret — help is on the way.

Check out this episode of The Bustle Huddle chock full of inspo, on iTunes and Spotify, where you can catch up on every episode from season 3.