Saturday, July 04, 2009

First impressions

I have a habit of opening up a new Word file and typing out whatever thought has just struck me, so I've ended up with a lot of rogue files with unhelpful names containing bits that were supposed to be turned into something greater, later. Today I decided to collate and organize them. I found this piece in a file named, tantalisingly, "I strongly recommend the yacht". It was written soon after I started my new job.

September 2008
When you're a manager whose only work is managering, how do you quantify your job? You haven’t got a list of things to complete, just a vague address of somewhere you have to be at the end of the year, and figuring out how to get there is supposed to be what you're there for.

And what did I do today? I talked a lot at a meeting on internal communications – officially not my concern – where I was invited to provide outside opinion. I put three people in touch with each other to further another’s training idea. I lent my weight to someone else's meeting. I advised a team member on how to deal with a difficult co-worker. I then spoke to that co-worker's manager. I interviewed one person, read the samples of work she sent in and requested a second opinion. I read three other resum├ęs and set up interviews with two of them. I had a brief conversation with my boss. I approved two leave applications. I posted on the company’s blog by way of cranking up the participation from my team.

I replied to two comments on that post. I downloaded and learnt how to use various proprietary tools. I attended one training session. I sent a few thank you mails in reply to people welcoming me into the company. I spent some time wondering how to deal with those that palpably don't and concluded that that was their problem, so no action required from me. I read a lot of Powerpoint presentations. I cautiously opened an Excel file and poked gingerly at a toolbar or two. Apart from this, my mind was abuzz, gathering information – both volunteered and otherwise – and processing it, making plans and rejecting them. But mostly trying to understand 14 people in whose very quantifiable achievements now lie mine.

I called a job status meeting. I read a quality audit. I read some of their work. I listened a lot. Then I wrote an operations report stating their achievements in August and what they're going to in September. This is all a lot of work but at the end of the year what do I say I did, when the usual measures – the job lists, training plans, forums, commendations and project trackers – record others' progress?

Meanwhile, they need my help and they'll get it, in spite of themselves if necessary. As the she-Shepherd said to Izzy Stevens: “You show an aptitude for my discipline and I have a lot to teach. So you decide how important it is for you to hate me.”

Now, nine months later

Some of it is so prophetic I could cry, if I wasn't laughing hysterically instead. And I've gone completely off Grey's Anatomy after the stupidity of the recently concluded Season 5, though I'm still very aware of the fact that the next season will begin in a month.

I usually take my blog very seriously, not something to be used as a garbage bin for every random doodle, but I have to warn those who read it that my next few posts are going to be from those stray files. Probably inspired by P. J. O'Rourke's "Age and Guile" (Review: a thoroughly interesting book).

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