I’d just been sent this year’s annual review form when I noticed that Dan Barrett had tweeted about how weeknoters were using their posts to feed into their reviews, so I delved back into last year’s notes and my aims for the year to think about what I fed into this year’s reviews.
Our review process involves some big open questions. This is brilliant in that it moves the review away from being a tickbox exercise into something that captures what really matters, but these big questions felt a bit overwhelming to begin with. Once I looked over my posts I was able to see that I’d already captured what I was thinking and feeling. This unexpectedly led to me being braver in my feedback than I might have been. It’s not that I would have entered my review hiding anything, but having reflected so openly it felt like I needed to carry this honesty in to the review itself.
So here’s how things have gone.
As a team, we’ve done incredibly well. We ran a total of 560 events in the last year with good qualitative feedback. We’ve had some challenges and made some structural changes in order to streamline what we do and to better support each other. This is an ongoing thing, and I’m trying to demonstrate the desired behaviours myself — being helpful, supportive and working beyond my personal responsibilities. I’m thinking about my role in the same terms as when I started the role, as a servant leader.
We are applying restorative principles to our work so that we foster strong peer to peer relationships that don’t disempower others according to the Ego State (Parent, Adult, Child) model. This is linked to moving away from shaming people for their mistakes. As Brene Brown would say, we’re not bad people, we just make bad choices.
Working out loud
I’m thinking about how I can actively work out loud this year. We are data rich as an events team, and this coming year I want to make much more of that.
We’re lucky in that because our work is based on a membership model, we are not forced into a position where we’re using things that are easy to measure to demonstrate our effectiveness. We have no KPIs, so our data can be exactly what it is — an indicator of what is taking place as opposed to a narrative of our work. I’ve had some good chats with Kelly Doonan on this, who shared this post on Campbell’s Law with me, which whatsthepont has also recently covered:
“Targets and careful measurements of progress against them is pretty much pointless. You are trying to define the unpredictable (by setting targets) and measure things over which you have no control. A complex system is controlled by many things beyond what you are concerned with”
This tweet from Dave Floyd pithily shares what I’m aiming for. This data won’t be an end in and of itself, but I hope that it will form part of a picture to provide us with further insight.
I’ve set up dashboards so that I can share how our partners are engaging with us and so that I can better aggregate data from our work. Ben Proctor has written a great post on data maturity (or the ladder of data awesomeness as he puts it in this post). We have been very reactive in the past. Now that I’m confident in my role, I’m in a position where I can provide data to those who need it much quicker, and I would like to get to the point where we’re using data to be forward looking in what we do.
It’s not enough to send this work out to the ether, I also need to make sure that it’s targetted and easily accessible. I’m currently thinking about how I can regularly update our Assistant Directors in a way that works for them. I’m particularly keen that they have the full budgetary picture when they’re making decisions.
Growth and Development
Unlike in previous roles where I’ve facilitated events myself, my current role is more of a back office role. As I mentioned in my aims for the year, the element that I’ve missed the most is the networking part where I developed my knowledge of public service improvement by learning from others.
This year I need to be thinking more actively around how I can grow and improve. Since I’ve started this job I’ve been thinking about my growth in a very linear way. I think I need to start thinking about improvement in a much wider sense to enable me to grow.
I’ve recently blogged about how important cycling has been to my wellbeing. I’ve started cycling from Exeter to work once a week. I got lost in Torquay the first time, but I’ve got the commute down to a respectable 2 1/4 hours so far. Exercising at the crack of dawn means that I get to do a big chunk of exercise whilst not taking a big chunk of time out of family life. I am grateful for my partner’s support, as I’m aware that I couldn’t do it without her.
One of the things that I noted this year was the imbalance in emotional labour in our household. My partner has just had a promotion, and I couldn’t be prouder. She is incredibly clever and has so much empathy for the people she works with and the people who access services. She’ll be amazing.
Because she’s only just started in this role, I don’t know what changes we’ll need to make so that I can support her and my step-daughter. I’m so grateful to be working for an organisation that will look to support me in the decisions that we make.
I’m hoping that these notes will be as useful as last year’s. I feel like I’ve developed a lot in my time here. I’ve got better at facilitating the team’s work and I’m far better at managing a budget than I used to be. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot in the last 18 months, and I’m looking forward to see how I can make better use of data going forward, particularly as this was part of my leaving present from Good Practice WAO due to my hatred of Excel….
Onwards and upwards!