Fortune telling

I’ve never had my fortune told, or my card read, or a serious reading of my palm or face or aura.  It’s not surprising given I’m an engineer.  Telling friends from my studies I was planning to get my fortune told did some with some amusing looks!

However, across my two readings, I came to see how much demand and interest there was in these practices!

A dear friend of mine reads this blog, and has used my bucket list/s to inform her gift giving.  For my birthday in 2017, she intended a year worth of activities – one a month, but alas life got in the road.  When she saw my renewed interest in fortune telling, by way of seeking recommendations or referrals, she promptly arranged me two readings, with a third possible opportunity.

My first reading was upstairs at the Argyle Oracle – a terrace lining a street in the Rocks, which has a great market every weekend – one I love to browse for souvenirs to take when I travel.  The ground level is a store of gem stones and books and tarot cards, and then upstairs there’s a number of rooms where readings a done by a range of people!?  I saw Camilla, who lead with asking my name and birthday, which resulted in some calculations about cycles and such – 6 and 9 featured?!  She also asked me to shuffle to decks of cards. She then took her magnifying glass and intently looked at my palms.  Interesting, she spoke of how two of the prominent lines on the hands are more separate in younger generations and she some how linked this to greater technology?! My take aways from her reading of my palm were: long life, good health, minimal dramas (comparing to others, not that my life will be without them!), that I’ll have three children, two boys and a girl (though it did feel like she started at two, and got slightly muddled around gender or birth order or perhaps even quantity).

From my palm, she dealt a smaller than normal playing card deck, in which certain sectors related to certain aspects of life – the top quadrant to my right was related to work.  There was a king there, and across that top row, a number of red cards.  This lay of cards remained dealt on the table, with the expected velvet table cloth, for the balance of the reading, and to the left, she made space where she dealt and re-dealt the tarot cards.

The tarot deck she used seemed to feature swords pretty heavily, and also what looked like sapling logs?  She dealt these cards in different configuration and quantities.  At one deal, she had three cards, followed by two more rows of three cards, and a few more to the side.  Initially she said the top row was 2017, followed by 2018 and 2019.  When I clarified we were now in 2018, she corrected.  And with that, everything shifted a year – womp womp.  It was with this deal that she spoke to marriage and children, who are coincidently gorgeous.  It does make you wonder if anyone would read and say ‘horribly ugly children’, right?  That being said, I suppose there are negatives that may be seen – health issues perhaps?

She spoke quickly with quite a nervous energy.  I was open to what she said, but I also wasn’t giving away great swaths of my life story either.  She lead with asking if I had any kids. I think she also asked about my work.  There were certainly some parts of the reading that sounded like common advice that anyone would give!

Much later, that same day, my friend had arranged another reading – this time with a male, Paris, who also stares on a TV show.  He came to have a natural gift, despite being a sceptic, she told me.  In reality, our reading was far shorter than anticipated (40 mins not an hour), and so I took some time to talk to him about his work, the critics, what happens if he was to reread/redeal the cards again for the same person right there.  I found the debriefing chat as insightful as my fortune telling!

Paris started by dealing a deck of cards and then fanning them out in front of me, asking me to select a quantity, perhaps 17? I can’t recall.  As I did that, he started writing a page.  At the top of the page was a traced palm, and with that, he asked me to select two areas of focus.  I chose work/career and love/romance of the total of six options.  These selections resulted in him annotating the on two fingers with a love heart and elsewhere, two money symbols.  He held my selected cards as a smaller deck until he’d completed writing the page.  He then dealt the cards and proceeded to transpose the equivalent characters of the Greek gods shown onto the fingers of the traced hands on the paper. (deciphering this at the pub after was a fun activity for me with my two friends!).

His dealing of these cards resulted in a strong segment of blue Gods around the centre, definitely Neptune and Uranus.  There were some strong female Gods (godesses?) too, like Dianna, Pan, Venus and Medusa.  His reading seemed to focus on the coming year, and really saw strong components of work and travel, which echoed things Camilla has said.  Overall, he quietly dismissed romance and love, explaining that the personalities of the cards I dealt weren’t aligned with welcoming love at this time.  Whilst I did have Venus, she seemed to be crowded out by some more… domineering godesses!  I’d be the first to acknowledge this would align somewhat to my personality, and particularly lately with dating.  He did consider that I could have a very segregated work and romantic life as a way of making it work, but I can’t see this duplicity working for me.  So it would seem the year ahead is about career, more so than love.

Neither reading seemed to touch on health at all – other than the more platitude like concepts like Camilla suggesting meditating more, and asking if I did yoga.  Paris wrote of balance and setting boundaries, as well as mind and body.  Neither are particularly firm grounds but neither are bad advice – I mean who doesn’t need more balance?

If I was to relocate overseas…

I drafted this post a long time ago, maybe 2015 or 2016, but it was even more interesting to re-read given my flatmate moved internationally to live back in Australia.  And his boxes have arrived! So I can report on his decisions below in italics in 2017!

So, work’s restructuring.  I feel confident.  I have to feel confident, I have to lead 60 people through it.  But I legitimately free OK.

The BF’s work (see how old this is?)is making HUGE changes, which could see opportunities internationally.  We could possibly move internationally.

Even if the above is only a dream… people do move house!

If we move far, we would not pack
– almost anything electrical (TV, VCR/DVD, fridge, washing machine, desktop computer, blender, iron, toaster, kettle, food processer) flatmate seems to have sent a computer screen, cables and cords, a modem (how he thought he could wait months for that!)
– second hand/Ikea furniture (dining chairs and table, occasional chairs, IKEA bed frames, buffet, kitchen trolley, coffee table, outdoor chairs and table) yep, he brought no furniture
– linens (towels, sheets, donna covers, cushions) again, all supplied by me in the initial months
– cheaper ‘art’: second hand canvas photo prints (3)! again, none.
– decorator items like birdcages, Astroturf rabbit, ornamental Easter eggs well… no, but.. there has been about 30 tchokees arrive and be put out on a common area.  They are travel souvenirs..

We would take with us
– clothing of all seasons, location dependent flatmate seemed to have sent many clothing items on the slow boat!
– personal electronics like laptops, tablets and phones; toothbrush and hair dryer obviously!

We would store!?
– sentimental items like photo albums and journals and art
– the couches – I love them. They were bought new. They will not sell well. It took me a long time to find the ‘right’ sofa. My parents stored theirs for three years and only just replaced them (stored from 1995-1998)
– cushion covers if I love them – this one totally surprises me!  What WAS I thinking?
– books – I don’t have many, what I do have, is because I WANT to keep them, but with a clear limit (ie one tea chest sized box)

Things I have NO idea about
– cutlery and crockery – they’d last time, but they are heavy so there’d be little point in taking them he’s not shipped either, but… done well to break some glasses and crockery – special skills, cause I can’t recall the last time I smashed something!
– kitchen gadgetry from pots to pans to utensils – which is similar to the above so, the flatmate has bought some things of his preference (cast iron pans) as little things like silicone rings for eggs and oversized ice cube trays.  His choices usually puzzle me!  He’d packed to ship items like a knife sharpener, and got impatient and re-bought one.
– lamps – I LOVE some of them. But again, HEAVY! And electrical, life can be unkind to them when they are out of use Flatmate loves that we have lamps (well… uses them) but thinks one is a little too bright…  Didn’t see the rush to buy a dimmer globe when it blew, so I’m ignoring his feedback :p

What this made me realise? Buying cheaper furniture that I like, whether Ikea or second hand, makes me less invested in keeping it if life changes. That being said, I’m happy with it. I don’t want to upgrade it.

Looking for a job

Looking for a new position to work in hasn’t been easy. I thought I might process my thoughts in writing.

I do have an engineering degree. I don’t feel that I’ve worked in role which have utilised the technical components of either what I studied OR what is in the industry. After two years in a graduate program, rotating every six months, I went into a permanent role which was project management of small electrical infrastructure projects. All distribution level, which is, suburban street sizes. And all connecting to a mature and established grid, so there was little in respects to technical suitability of the solution etc etc. I recieved a design, and worked to get it installed as designed (well, unless the design totally missed some site based difficulties…!)

From there, I went into more managerial roles. It involved a lot of odds and ends as tasks to start with. Improving performance of a group of field staff, who didn’t do project work, so weren’t in the existing systems of scheduling. Dealt with some consultation with staff on changes to their rostering and work location – which might sound like one 1 hour meeting, until you factor in a heavily unionised work force. I was also asked to look into how to condense two depots into one.

After this role, I went on to manage a small team of office workers in managing maintenance documents – they prepare the instructions for field staff. I really enjoyed this role, as there was a lot to teach the team who were new to the role, but not the business. It was also when I started being involved in an IT transformation where field staff would be issued with iPads, in an effort to streamline work. It was incredible how much I learnt about the existing software, and the limitations and challenges to move it to a mobile device which may not always have internet connections.

I have another three years of work experience to rabbit on about, but the point is… I don’t know how to articulate that this is what I like to do. It’s not an ‘engineer’ but it does require some technical knowledge, and an ability to interface with other tradespeople to understand. Ultimately, it’s a problem solving role. Googling ‘problem solver’ as a job description… not so successful (Lies… the Seek ad show 15,212 problem solver jobs!)

I do not want to work in

  • sales
  • safety/risk management. Sure it can come up, but not the focus.
  • making slideshows. You can’t make me lol!

Any nudges or hints on where you think I should put my feelers, I’m all ears

If not this job, then what?

*Drafted sometime in 2018 but never published*

I have a job now, and I don’t enjoy it.  I find it hard to self motivate.  It’s related to feeling so out of my depth.  There’s so many layers of management that review and authorise everything we draft, so that can cripple my ability to feel it’ll ever pass. I’m also not clear on what our role can influence and change – external parties see us as being able to change laws, but really, it’s pretty unlikely.  Ministers wish we did more for customers, even when it’s a private company that now runs the company, not the govt.

I took this job as I felt I was stagnating in my previous role.  Not being challenged and not really learning.  It feels similar now; there was learning, but I mostly feel blah.

Whilst I was on a month’s break from the long standing job, I ended up brainstorming a business idea with my friends.  I didn’t really do anything more with it, other than meet with one of my priests to talk about their perspective.  It’s related to an industry where I could take an entry level job to test the waters.  When I had an informational interview with one family owned business, I realised just how lowly paid it is.

Prior to this call, I’d spent time analysing my expenses this year.  Looking at what I budgeted vs what I spent.  I don’t usually actively budget, but with the four weeks off work, I took half my usual salary and with some big bills, threw me for six.  When I look at all my spending (and not saving), I worked out the salary I could live on.

The numbers surprised me, they are low.

They just aren’t as low as this information interview number.

Creature of habits and routines

It’ll come as no surprise to those who know me that I’m a conscientious person. And with that, comes routines and habits. And even in a period of unemployment and wide open spaces of unscheduled time, I’ve still come to a routine.

I now wake much (an hour!) later – at 6:40am. This gives me time to briefly review my notifications, get dressed and walk to the gym for a 7am work out. After my 45 minutes of sweating more than I think is humanly possible, I saunter home. I then make the planned breakfast *the plan being set by F45, the gym I go to. It’s usually either a smoothie, an omlette or eggs some other way, and occasional toast with chocolate/peanut butter concoction. Depending on my inclination, I’ll either wash up then (the previous 24 hours of dishes) or I’ll head to the local cafe for my cappuccino. (Fun fact: after many years as a mocha drinker, and then trying decaf long blacks for F45 challenges in 2018, I’ve found a more moderate coffee – it’s a skim cap with honey, so still sweet but less so? maybe?)

At my local cafe, I take the newspaper and read it cover to cover. Sometimes, annoyingly, someone calls. Don’t they know they are interrupting my routine? Even to tell me about that ONE job I’ve applied for in this brief sabbatical? I jest.

Once the paper is read, I return home to wash up, if required, and then shower. After that, it becomes a wide open expanse.

As the blog title hints, I have a stack of lists. I have a list of items I want to buy (both clothing and household items). I have a list of errands and chores to do around the home, including things I’d prefer do on a ‘big screen’ of the laptop when I’m next at the library or my parent’s house. I also have a list of tasks for my upcoming European holiday. When you’re going to Greece, Hungary, Italy, Croatia for fun, and further England & Wales, Germany and France to see people you love, there’s a fair bit of logistics. I thought I had it sorted, til ferries only ran two days a week, or flights only started in the true summer season, and not the shoulder.

Some days, I have ‘coffee dates’ with former work acquaintances and colleagues. Other days, I head to the library to use their internet. Other days, I stay home, and get cabin fever!

Most afternoons I take to the bed upstairs to lie down and read. Surprisingly, with such a leisurely schedule, my need to nap has diminished, and if I do end up napping, it tends to make my night sleep more broken.

A good day is when a few more of those listed items are struck off. Most days see me also add a few more tasks though!

Overwhelmed by work

Another archived draft that was never published, in late 2017.  Based on my career change lately, I feel it’s topical to share this now.

I’ve blogged in fits and spurts for a number of years, and it all started due to having a lot of idle time at work.  Whilst I’ve remained with the same employee, I have let this blog take a back seat and really seen my career grow and change in the past few years.  I largely don’t blog about work, but if you are interested, I have a smallish collection of tagged posts.

In early 2014, I did a six week period ‘acting’ as a manager, and from there, other opportunities unfolded as my company (six months as a manager of a small team in late 2014) saw many restructures and many generations of staff leave.  I was permanently appointed as a Field Manager in April 2015.

In those to two and a half years in the role has been all elements of managing field staff (here’s the ‘one week in‘ debrief, and ‘one year in‘).  They are powerline workers and labourers who install poles.   Overall, I think the job is a fantastic fit to my skills and my personality.  I like being involved with ‘day to day’ works.  I love that we do emergency response.  I like that I have such diversity in my role: from chairing interview panels to assisting with logistics on setting stock levels or appropriately scraping materials, managing a huge fleet and the renewals/upgrades/returns.  Days rush past and I can nary remember a time when I could draft a blog post in working hours!!

But wow, of late, I’ve been overwhelmed.  Where 2015 and 2016 saw reductions in field staff, and that was brutal and destabilising, 2017 is the year of reductions from all the supporting staff.  There’s been wholesale changes to sections like: training, HR, fleet management, engineering & standards and clerical support.  As an organisation of thousands, I believe have ‘subject matter experts’ in areas like that, REALLY help.  They can make business wide decisions or at least ensure consistency.  They can have specific knowledge.  They can negotiate quantity discounts.  However, with every in a full time employee comes from ‘business savings’.  Sometimes, what that means is pushing some of those tasks to the regions.  Now, I do things like

  • scan and file log books into a centralised system (but only one type – heavy vehicles do TWO log books everyday)
  • updating what was fixed & when.  Previously a paper form went to someone else to process.  I knew those people – they used to get SO bored!
  • write interview questions, complete inordinate additional tables/forms to appoint and wonder why it takes from April to August to get a job even CLOSE to filled

Everything seems to take so long.  And be so hard.  Every decision or email seems to need a handful of people included.

I keep thinking if I do more, I’ll be on top of it.  More will be achieved.  And… I mostly succeed, stuff gets done, things improve or move forward or change for the better.

Then I realise – I let work take all of me.  I literally get annoyed when a friend/date asks me when I’m free during work time.  In my mind, I’m sometimes indigent they’ve also interrupted my day with yet another demand.  How could I possibly predict if I’ll have ANY energy left on a week night to meet with them.  Then I resent that I crowd my weekends with ‘have to dos’ with chores to keep the next working week afloat.  I actually ‘worry’ I can’t socialise as I won’t get the week ahead prepared and chaos may descend.  It’s ridiculous.  This is NOT how people live.  People actually cook and prepare every meal fresh; not batch cook on a weekend or live off ready prepared freezer meals.  Or is that a ‘should’ – I listened to a podcast today and the presenter admitted he doesn’t cook, and I didn’t think he was a bumbling non-adult.  He just… didn’t. Doesn’t (Well he does now, it was an ad for Blue Apron, but anyhow).  Who knows how he feeds himself and his health.  That’s it right – I worry.  I worry I am not eating healthy ‘enough’.  That my convenience meals are generating waste (which long time readers KNOW I hate).  Some of my errands and chores are adding to the burden on weekends – needing to go to a bulk store, drop off compost, drop off soft plastics, return books to the library.  But none of those will I give up, as I really DO feel they align to what’s important to me.  But I resent that they are seemingly taking up time I could have fun in.  Time I could enjoy with others.  And I blame work.  Well, I blame me.  I stay back an hour or two to get some more done.  I know I have a commute, and really, without it, imagine!  In the past few months, I have pushed myself to exercise more and overall, I can’t fault that decision.  I just need to find a balance between work – exercise – life.

Does your work gobble up your life? How do you stop that from happening?

Getting into the manager groove (in 2016!)

From the archives; drafted but never published. The guys did their training in April 2016, so I expect this is from early 2016!

Some will remember the first time I stepped into a management role in February 2014.  I was really struggling with the influx of communication and how the heck to get people to do stuff.  It was a six week stint, and by the end of it, I had a better handle on things, and really did appreciate readers advice.

Two years on, I’m permanently appointed as a manager.  I started the role just after Easter in 2015, with indirect and direct reports in the vicinity of 75!  It’s hard to imagine now, as that number has seen a number of staff have their volunteer for redundancy.  I’d say my ‘count’ is closer to 45.  I appreciate that everyone who is at work now, wants to be at work.  For a long while, we were struggling with demotivated people who just wanted out!

Moody shot!  All the photos I took when I was working, died with the return of my work phone & iPad

Now, the business is still talking about more cuts, and I can’t see how – not when I look to my team.  We all just hope they’ll find cuts elsewhere.

Despite further staff needing to go, the business has allowed some opportunities for people in the team to develop, train and improve their skills and income. It gives me the greatest pleasure to work one on one with staff and see where they’d like to move long term or how they’d like to develop.  It’s incredibly strategic – working out ‘who goes where’, trying to get people to where they want, but also develop people in time to fill holes in the business.

I’ve shortlisted applications, I’ve interviewed, and I’ve short listed for appointments.  Telling those who haven’t succeeded is hard – and so many people just take it on the chin.  Others, whinge and think it’s unfair.  The best response are those who are mature enough to see there’s somewhere they need to grow.  I’m learning to be better prepared to have and give that feedback.  And with each pass through the system, I learn how to better equip applicants so they can shine in their application as much as they do day to day.  Running a ‘job readiness’ course has made a world of difference to the quality of applications.

Early next week, I’ll announce some of the most long sought promotions.  For SO LONG they’ve wanted to be a live line worker – working at high voltage without turning the power off!  It’s as technically challenging as it can get, and it’s financially rewarding.  It’ll topple the apple cart – as there are some stars that have silently risen.  There are some candidates who have misplaced confidence.  It will be a undertaking to deliver the news with the sensitivity it will require.

This is a lot of words to say – I love the job.  I love developing staff.  I love seeing people grow.  I relish the day they eclipse me!

A new job

First – it takes 2 hours to download my past content and the NBN (the government’s National Broadband Network) isn’t stable enough that this hasn’t dropped out on any of my countless attempts. So… yeah, maybe I need Starbucks or similar? A work in progress, this blog revival!

Right, so as to the blog title: after nine years at the same electricity company (where I went as an engineering graduate), I started a new job today. My new job is within the NSW Government, but still related to electrical engineering.

Desk photo, complete with standing desk contraption

Upsides

  • chose my own start and finish times. Today, it was 8:30am to 5:30pm
  • setting an alarm to wake me the same time I usually started work
  • corporate office style job, so I can wear dresses and skirts and NO ugly hi vis orange!
  • their IT support seems to be quick and responsive
  • I have a BRAND NEW iPhone which was completely unexpected (I didn’t expect a desk based role would necessitate a phone, nor such an up to date model!)
  • I was paid out my long service leave accrued in my past job, so a lump sum of savings onto my mortgage

Downsides

  • the way I was hired means I don’t have annual or sick leave
  • my previous employment put 14.5% of my salary into retirement savings, this company does the legal requirement of 9.5%
  • getting home in the dark, with sore feet (as I now walk 15 mins to the station) and then trying to feed a dog in the dark and hurting my finger on the washing rack…

For consideration

  • I no longer have a team. In the past three years, I had a handful of direct reports, and indirect reports from 30 – 75! So you can imagine having no reports is VASTLY different
    day one was all about drafting responses to customers on behalf of a minister or similar, about concerns and issues with their electricity company. Writing doesn’t worry me, but it is a HUGE change
  • The ‘workflow’ is all managed through a computer system I used in my last job, but they use it to a far greater sense. The transition has been easy and made me think ‘why didn’t we use it like this, instead of endless emails?’
  • Overall, I found my work day fine. I don’t think I’ve made a crazy mistake. I do a little bit begrudge my desk position and fluro lighting, but it’s day one, who knows what will come with time! The office is lovely and close to the train station at the other end. Maybe I’ll try the ugly tread of ‘walking’ shoes for the commute. And work on doing more chores and outside tasks in the morning light, as there’s none in the evening.

There’s definitely scope for me to learn: more about the legislation. More about gas and the pipelines. Get to know people in all the electrical industries that can assist in my response writing. And of course, there’ll be other tasks for my job, it’s just the ones I was involved with today.

Any questions? Any words of wisdom?

April Summary

Culture:

Quite unexpectedly, I attended a concert in April.  A fantastic young artist, Vera Blue, was sold out, but the night of her concert, I got an email for last minute tickets for $35! I did not hesitate and bought two tickets and invited a friend from work (who’d coincidently been at the last concert I went to – Urthboy).

OK so not the best photo… But the sound was AMAZING

I caught up with great friends for a MeatFest on GoodFriday for lunch, as well as an after work meal of dumplings – where we debated the quantity of dumplings we could consume in a sitting!  I also had a few wine filled meals with some close friends who we’d spent the past three years out of contact.  It’s great to be back in contact, and things just gel so easily.  I also ate out in a new area and despite it being known for Italian, we had French.

I also took twin six year olds to the Lego Movie, but promptly had a nap between some great one liners…  I also had an evening babysitting, where they wouldn’t go to sleep :s

Cheeky movie buddy

Romance:

The dating has continued! I could even say it’s been a good month – kept me very busy too!  I had a first date on weekend night, at a bar that you’d walk by and miss in an alley in Darlinghurst.  I actually recall going there many years ago – inside it’s all themes like an American Saloon, complete with snacks of peanuts to crack and eat – a great activity for first date nerves (which… I don’t really get, but he might have!).  The other first date was a weeknight at a small bar I’d been to before (also) for a 40th celebration.  They were comedically ill equipped for my cocktail order – having run out of key ingredients with the long weekend!  Sometimes, wine’s just easier.

Not romantically, I met a good friend prior to Easter Sunday church.  We usually catch up like this quite regularly – he drinks a coffee and stay lithe and I eat and drink, and in this case, the mean was equally ‘wow’ worthy.

Yummy! And looks that way as well

Work:

The new management has been in for two weeks – though one week’s been between Easter and Anzac Day (the day Australian’s have off to remember fallen soldiers).  It’s also school holidays – so it means so much is on hold awaiting people to return from leave.  In the short 4 day week, my new boss was in my office one day, and half of that was spent on site meeting and inspecting the safety of teams, including mine.  My former boss is still ‘on the books’ but has taken leave.  What will become of him is still uncertain.  My mentor is also still on the books.  All a little… perplexing.

Hipster cafe or what? I know Lucinda – out for BREAKFAST!

Health:

I continued to aim for two classes per week of Barre Tone, in addition to a one off yoga class at Humming Puppy.  Other than that, I tend to walk to and from church Sunday, as well as for additional services and my monthly Parish Council meetings.  I also walk to Barre Tone which is a comparable distance as to church.  It’s better than nothing, but all month I’ve been considering if it’s enough in comparison to my rather lazy and somewhat unhealthy eating.  One possible date and I have been chatting, and considering joining F45.  They are INTENSE 45 minutes sessions, and they really tone people, but I am anxious about what week I want to write off as being in utter pain for the muscle pain!

Easter sunday flowers (I did them)

Bought:

I spent a small fortune on AirBnBs and hostel deposits, as well as a week of day trips in Iceland!  As far as material possessions, I tried on four pairs of hiking pants.  I really wanted to buy Patagonia gear, but they didn’t have the size/colours I wanted and I’m not a huge fan of mail order when i’m not sure on size.  I went to another store that sells multiple brands and tried on two pairs, and settled for the comfier pair – elasticised back waist and inner light fleece lining!  They were $200 (!!) so I paid the $10 to join the ‘club’ and get 10% off!  At the same time, I got another ‘goo tube’ – I thought I needed one, but since getting home, I’m not entirely sure I do.

Read:

I have had three books on the go for a while, but none are capturing me.  Those are

  • Hot Milk – this was recommended on another blog, but it’s just not that interesting. I did finish it, but… not sure why
  • Queen of the South – translated from Spanish, there’s still a LOT of Spanish and it makes it disjointed for me.  I can see how it’s a TV show, but it’s not a story that is compelling me to keep reading. I returned it having read about 150 pages.
  • Working with Difficult People
  • Presence by Amy Cuddy – recommended by Save Spend Splurge
  • Last night in Montreal by Emily St John Mandel

I really need some good easy readers I think… I’m really not enjoying or reading much at the moment.

One year as a field manager

It’s been one year since I took a sharp and unexpected career turn, from acting as a manager of a handful of office based workers, to becoming a middle manager, with other managers reporting to me with line staff.  I wrote my ‘first thoughts‘ after the first week on the blog.

Sunsets over the depot
Sunsets over problem poles and wire (site visit on the way home)

 

In a similar fashion, I want to review how the year has gone, what I’ve achieved and what I’d like to achieve in the coming years.

Firstly, I’ve gone from 75 staff that ‘roll up’ to me.  Now I have 52 staff appointed and three apprentices. I did not fire a person (I couldn’t even if I wanted to!).  There’s been a wide spread implementation of a voluntary redundancy program, and many volunteered.  The initial 75 didn’t include about 10 staff I came to inherit after it started to seem apparent I was effectively their manager due to geography! What this says is there’s been about 30 (!) staff leave.  A few have moved roles internally as well.  It’s been really good to clear out those who wanted to go – as they were demoralised and unhappy at times, and it didn’t help productivity. That being said, there’s still a huge amount of business pressure to further reduce headcount overall, but there’s no one who ‘wants’ to go in my groups, so everyone is very nervous that voluntary redundancy will evolve to forced redundancy.  Me?  I would prefer we had a mechanism to remove those staff who are a destructive influence to productivity – who ACTIVELY take the business for a ride.  The staff who take inordinately more time and energy to manage than the majority.

Photos of the Kurnell storm 'recovery' (not my photo!)
Photos of the Kurnell storm ‘recovery’ (not my photo! I stayed in the office for the whole time, as I couldn’t have all computer systems working remotely as effectively.  Plus – it was pretty cluttered with people!)

Achievements, of all sizes

  • Improved bins for light globe and head recycling: I was having all sorts of grief with what would and wouldn’t be collected, and with much back and forth, managed to get all the right bins to satisfy the environmental group and appease the waste contractors
  • Bigger truck parking bays: this was a concern to some of the staff, worried about the tiny gaps between truck and the twisting they needed to get in and out.  It was such a simple change (repainting lines) but with many things, just need endless vigilance to resolve the issue

Developing staff

  • Appointed five of my staff to the highest technical training course (and over time, they will get financially rewarded).  Sadly, one of those promoted will move locations to meet business needs, but it’s still a net benefit for him.
  • Appointed four staff to the afternoon shift I oversee, which effectively ‘saved’ most of them from their precarious contract conditions
  • Names an additional three staff for short course training to take on higher responsibilities (again, a pay bump!)
  • Trained two field workers in an office based role – me offering informal training and mentorship for no immediate financial gain for them
  • Two field workers ‘acting’ roles in the office with the financial rewards

Cost savings

  • Returning a number of fleet which were surplus to requirements, to reduce business costs (and the win was: I offered before I was forced!)
  • Rolled out iPads to 90% of my staff, and offered first port of call assistance on every issue <- an epic undertaking!  It’s wonderful to be able to email field staff, and get high resolution photographs in the middle of the work day (not when they get back to the depot)

My fleet includes a boat to inspect otherwise isolated assets!
My fleet includes a boat to inspect otherwise isolated assets!  This was my maiden journey

Overall, I LOVE my job.  To many outsiders, it was a big change.  From the role I was ‘acting’ in for six months to this one, it’s a pay cut, but as I said in my linked post, this role comes with a vehicle which offsets the dollars for me.  What I really enjoy about my job is the people contact, but further than that, the development of these people.  I often feel proud of being able to ‘grow’ the people in a business that is contracting and cost cutting.  I really appreciate a boss who by and large trusts me, and supports me in my crusades and missions.  Occasionally, I’m ‘too passionate’ or ‘too frustrated’!  I feel a sense of autonomy, without having to check in, clock in etc; I feel trusted.

What would I like to achieve in the year ahead?

  • Daily iPad usage  for the ‘getting’ and ‘closing’ or ‘reporting back’ on work.  I want to move away from print outs and the time in the depot morning and afternoon to collect and return items. It will be a watershed moment when time sheeting becomes electronic for field staff, though whether that will be within the next year, I have absolutely NO idea.
  • Personal responsibility to getting tasks done: currently if it doesn’t get done today, it gets passed back in to be ‘rescheduled’.  Things slip through the cracks.  I’d prefer crews/staff knew it needed to get done and ‘fitted it in’ at the very next opportunity.  With electronic jobs, the idea of “lingering” tasks will be more transparent.
  • Productivity increase: simply, not one staff member in the depot after the first half hour (after 7.30am) and before the last half hour of the day (3pm).  There’s a strong lingering attitude, and I want to work to fill 7 hours with meaningful work!
  • Field supervisor led team briefs – smaller groups, shorter, more meaningful (hopefully)
  • Personalised, serious performance reviews and development plans, rather than repeating the same handful of lines for everyone, every half year
  • Focused ‘targets’ to meet for different work programs: there are some standards that are well know (fix street lights in 8 working days), but overall, there’s not a strong focus on meeting this and all the other targets that ‘management’ have.  I’m not sure if it’s lack of visibility and timely feedback loops on target progress, or whether the ‘work tasks’ chop and change every day in the week, so there’s no ownership.

Here’s to a stronger year ahead – lean and efficient, but growing and learning more.