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.

Week 1 as “the boss”

Yep, this week, first week as the boss of 75 people! Well 4 direct reports and about 70 indirect reports… Oh and all of them are men – but that comes as no surprise to me 🙂

So far, I’ve loved it.  I’ve done an extra four hours of work, just to keep notes, and thin out all the rubbish and stuff in my space (rolodex anyone? floppy discs?).

This week I’ve touched on

  • the merits and short comings of crib and satellite stores
  • store (like pallet racks!) cleanliness
  • data clean up (that’s something that hasn’t changed since my last role, and never will I expect)
  • found out about a number of personal issues of staff – some I’ve not met yet, and perhaps might never!
  • reviewed timesheets, travel time applications, overtime applications – so far no leave application at least?
  • future plans that have stalled, like
    • granting staff voluntary redundancies who’ve applied
    • moving assets to a new location (away from where I work)
    • moving the people associated with working with the above assets, or not?

So far, I don’t feel too out of my depth.  There’s been many questions I can’t answer, but I have a strong network of people from my north area that I’m comfortable calling on for help.  And many of my equals I’ve worked with previously, and they have decades more experience than me, and only too happy to help.  I hope I don’t wear out my welcome with them.

The best bit, that I’m loathed to admit, is that I get a car.  The commute isn’t short, at about 40 minutes. But it’s ‘easy’.  I’m not hot and sweaty when I get to work.  The rain this evening didn’t worry me.  And I drive through the area that is ‘my’ poles and wires, so I can see issues.  This is both a blessing, but a curse too!  At this stage, the vehicle option I chose is only for home to work, and work travel.  I can look into a leased vehicle and the tax advantages in the new financial year.  The new FY will also mean others have done their tax returns and tell me if it really turns out well for their financial position.  I’ll be the first to admit that the cost of cars is a HUGE reason I’ve never owned a car.

All in all, I feel much better for the new role. How’s your work treating you this week?

Limbo at work

I have accepted a new role, a promotion, and I’ve negotiated to start on Monday 13th April.  Initially we talked about 30th March, but with a Phuket holiday over the Easter weekend and into the next week, it made sense to hold off starting until I was ‘there for good’.

So I have three weeks of ad hoc tasks.  I’m back in the office – as in, my own office?!  Weird, given I’ll be paid less than the guy outside my door… but it’s only temporary, and I have to admit, it’s sorta nice :p There’s still the stretched canvas print of the Brooklyn Bridge I brought at a thrift store to brighten the boring walls!

cat limbo

I can’t begin to tell you the change to my mindset and general ‘feel’ about work since moving back.  Sunday night blues were a little more of a ‘nice’ blue.  The 5:30am alarm was less painful – I took it upon myself to take as long as it needed to prep for work (no rushing for the half hourly express).  I then walked to a station two stops further away, as a fitness option.  A nice cool morning too, so I wasn’t all hot and bothered.

I did have to visit the far away office, and collect my boxes (two) and uniforms (three containers – a bag and two milk crates or so worth!).  Safety gears more excessive in space taking that reference paperwork, who’d have thought!  Driving north, I ground myself down, and thought of how OVER IT I am/was/are!?  I mean, being in Hornsby meant questions, hand overs, where am I going now?  I just wanna hide!  It’s not yet ‘signed on the dotted line’ so I’m not prepared to announce my new role widely, lest anything go wrong…

So, I’m spending some time thinking about what made me come to resent the role and the position, so I can plan and prepare for my new role.  I want to be ready to ‘manage the manager’ so I feel good about the job I do, rather than feeling like the boss always wants more, and what I’ve done is never enough…  I suppose that’s a point in and of itself – I need my achievements to be recognised, and not in the breath before asking for something more.  At the core, I want to be trusted to be able to do my job, that I will try my hardest and do my best.  That I’m not a slacker – and if I take a liberty of an hour here or there for personal issues, it will truly be nothing compared to what I do give.  I have really felt like I’ve needed to justify every minute of every day in the past six months, and I still never felt like it was enough.  That sucks…

How do you, my wise readers, deal with the above?  That sense of defeat?  Lack of appreciation?

4 days to go!

The countdown is til I move back to my normal office.  It’s all very uncertain, as I’ve applied for another role (not at my normal office location, this time, south, but with a car as part of the package).  So I’m not sure if this will be a short term stop over or part of a longer ‘settling back in’.  In any case, I’m not regretting turning down the promotion ‘up north’.  I still woke today, dreading the commute.  I still cursed the sweatiness hustling to not miss my train.  And I cursed again as I got home 12 hours since I’d left, knowing I have yet more hours to work to get some time off for a funeral on Friday.

2015 Random 002
Oh I went to the zoo… this is a seal

 

All I can hope is this move in work will mean a more regular return to blogging! Though I note other professional women amongst my readership have slowed down blogging too, which makes me feel foolish to boast having more time!  Thanks for making me feel normal, in my irregular posting, Lucinda, Fiona and Amanda – Dar & Laura you put us all to shame, what IS your secret?

2015 Random 005
Sunday brunch view (Scarborough beach, WA)

 

Outside of work, I spent four days in Perth with the BF last weekend… it was totally last minute (as in, the flight disappeared from being sold online within the time I was looking at it!)  It was an expensive last minutes decision, but critical to my mental health, so I’m glad I did it.  The BF spent the remainder of the week in Perth, so I ‘stayed over’ with my empty nester parents much to their delight.  Of course, they spoilt me, with breakfast (fruit salad, yoghurt and toast) set out for me.  And waking me gently rather than an alarm.  And dropping me at the station, or picking me up from the airport during peak hour.  So I felt like a special someone for a little while, which was just what I needed.

FullSizeRender_2
See, we surfed!

 

I’ve totally forgot to share my embarrassing surfing lesson photos with you – I have to more lessons to look like a pro (and lose 10kg I’ve gained of late!)  Still, it was a fun and exhausting work out.  And the weather was far nice that the picture, but it did turn at the end, and lovely at the start 😀  A cyclone or two have delayed me from going back the past two weekends.  But I did pilates in the park, and a run, a first in a long time.  My body is screaming, let me assure you!

How are y’all?

Push has come to shove

So… work:

This week marked my six month anniversary of being a manager of my team of six in northern Sydney.  And at the end of the week, I was offered the opportunity to make the management role permanent.

Ironic – as I didn’t apply for the role.  I applied for advertisement for six roles at the same level, at three locations, one being where I’ve been working.  Like other applicants, I opted for the locations that suited me.  Alas, it seems like no one *read* that part.

The informal story is – I wasn’t meritorious enough to get the role in location I preferred.  Interestingly, that means I’m offered something I didn’t ask for.

Truth be told, this was the most probable of the scenarios I’d envisioned!

source
source

My loyal readers, you’ll recall my first foray into management, titled I’m not ready for management. (which I followed with this post, and this). That was just a YEAR ago.

My first foray was a short six week period.  Then I went into acting as a Senior Engineer, with no staff reporting to me, but a higher pay scale and added responsibilities (like formal disciplinary interviews and ethics training).  As the restructure continued to unfurl, I was moved to a more northern location, for what I saw as a short term stop gap for the business.  And exactly six months, almost to the day, the applications are submitted, the interviews are completed, and the offers are imminent (I’m lead to believe I have a jump on those?!)

But true to my word then, and now.  It’s not right for me.

What I do know is, I CAN be a manager.  I have valuable skills beyond my first few years in the section, where I was a paperwork machine.  I can track and manage progress on any number of fronts.  I can empathetically support staff, all but one, older than me, and the complexity of humans and their lives – difficult pregnancies, ill partners, children with ongoing health concerns, staff with health issues!  I’ve balanced the responsiveness needed for our section, against a team with all their competing personal needs.  And, I’d like to say, we’ve *killed* it.  Myself included, we came to form a section with about 3 years COMBINED of experience in the skills in the portfolio.  That’s basically saying we built from the ground up.

I've been on both sides of the fence now. source
I’ve been on both sides of the fence now. source

I’ve learnt to balance, and come to enjoy, the commitments beyond managing my team.  I sit of a few committees, and despite my relative youth, I come to feel I have something to offer.  I have a strong understanding of what ‘my people’ do, and how to relate that to people rolling out new technology.  Or the committee who drafts the ‘Rules’.  And on a committee when I work to implement legislation that’s neigh on impossible to implement in the financial climate, but alas, due to the Black Saturday Bushfires, we must do, and without a moment of delay.  Through all these, I’ve exposed myself to far more people than ever before, and I have a far greater understanding of all the moving parts of the business. I am gobsmacked to find the level below the COO, knows my name in a meeting.  Gosh the COO “reply all” to an email, and I was CCed in, just this morning (yes, Saturday!).  I feel like saying no now isn’t the end of my future.  Maybe I’ll be wrong.  But I’m confident in myself and my value, to this business.  And if not to this business, I now trust I can add value elsewhere.

Strange side note – I was searching my COO, and his linkedin profile shows he did a MBA (only recently) in a very prestigious French institute.  And he did his undergraduate degree where I did… Well there you go!

What are your thoughts?