When you’re taking steps into the unknown at a new organisation, it’s difficult to know how exactly you’re doing without frank, open and honest conversation.
Starting a new job at Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults has been great, and I’ve really valued having the opportunity to take responsibility for the events budget and of leading the team.
My first appraisal was a chance for me to benchmark how I’m doing and to look at the areas that I need to develop. What I really valued was that it wasn’t a one way process and that I had the opportunity to develop my own objectives.
I’ve previously blogged about working out loud and its benefits. This means taking the rough with the smooth and sharing the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I’ve been particularly inspired by the frankness of Louise Cato’s post on her fears. I’m really interested to see how Louise uses roadmaps to chronicle her development, as I’ve developed a Trello board to keep track of where I am. I’m conscious that my end goal is just passing my probation. What happens after that? Do I archive the board, or does it instead become something bigger on personal development? Neil Tamplin has shared some really useful Government Digital Service resources on Roadmaps, and I can see how useful they would be when connected to a bigger purpose.
What’s gone well?
In my last job I used Trello Boards in order to manage my events. As someone who’s worked hard to improve their time management, I’ve really benefitted from a digital kick up the backside to keep me on track.
Before I started, we used spreadsheets to keep tabs on where things were at. The digital team use Basecamp, so I’ve taken the opportunity to road test it as an events management tool. My first impressions are that it might work a bit better than Trello for complex projects as it’s not as linear. Time will tell how the rest of the team find it when the work gets properly underway.
I’ve previously blogged about the servant leadership approach that I’m looking to put into practice, and I’m happy with this so far. In our weekly catch-ups we have 5 minutes each to share what we’re doing, what’s on the horizon and any issues that we’re facing. This has kept everyone in the loop without being a burden on everyone’s time. The one issue though is that it’s easy to look at things in terms of one week chunks, so I’ve started to encourage the team to look at the longer term after some feedback from my colleague Ella.
The handy thing about being an events co-ordinator is that I get to network with and learn from inspiring people who deliver social care. By sharing helpful resources and learning points at events (both online and in person), I’ve been able to develop my knowledge of the sector in England. I was particularly interested in Leeds’ use of Restorative Practice after I heard about it at our Leaders’ Forum, and I’ll put a future post together to help cement my learning and share good practice.
And by being an argumentative Cardi with short arms and long pockets, I managed to save us £3.5k on a conference venue after we had unsatisfactory service. Boom!
What can I do better?
Whilst we had good feedback from attendees at the first national event that I led, there were areas for development. My colleague Ami had run her event so well that I hadn’t really noticed the intricacies of everyone’s roles, something which came apparent when problems occured on my watch. I’d been in a bit of a comfort zone in my last job — we all knew exactly what we needed to do and I hadn’t realised how much of that I took for granted. I didn’t pull for help when I needed it, which would have helped us get to grips with the problems much more effectively. I obviously wished I’d done a better job, but I learnt so much from those errors, and subsequently the next event that I led was much better. It also helped to embed a good evaluation meeting after each of our national events, which has resulted in lots of positive learning so far.
I’m also still pretty much at the beginning of my line management journey. We’ve started to bond as a team and I’ve had a couple of difficult conversations, but I know that I’m going to have to have more of those as the buck stops with me. We’ve got some line management training early next year which looks at emotional intelligence, so it’ll be fascinating to see what I can pick up from that.
I’m still getting to grips with what the team’s day to day work looks like, but naivety won’t be a defence forever so I really need to build up my practical knowledge of what the team does. I’m in the office alone for the last couple of days before Christmas, so that’s my deadline and my spur for making sure that I’m up to speed with everything.
I’m determined to carry on with the servant leadership approach that I’ve been getting to grips with. I’m thinking about how I can encourage the team to generate their own solutions to issues, especially as they are the ones who are dealing with them on a day to day basis. So I’m going to facilitate a teamday where we can look at what works, what our issues are and how we can be better. If it goes well, it should help us to bond as a team and improve how we work. I don’t want to separate the knowledge of the work from the decision making process — top down command and control isn’t a great plan in most scenarios, but after 3 months in the job it would be a nightmare. I’ll chronicle what happens as a result so that anyone who’s interested can use my approach and take it a few steps further.