Week 2 — An inflated balloon that got popped
I started my second week at Greenwich feeling quite overwhelmed. I’d hit my first week really hard. I’d managed to meet all but one head of service in Digital and Customer Services and some of their teams (Danny, Paul, Lingjing, Sukh, Elliot, Timo, Sam, Susan, Saeed, Mark, Mo, Jamie, Eleanor, Darinka and other people I know I have forgotten). I had also completed 5 of the 7 e-learning modules required, read a business case, caught up on three supplier presentations about backup solutions and met a partner we have engaged with to do a market assessment of suppliers. It was a lot. Monday dawned with me feeling the toll of an unsustainable pace in both body and mind.
Thankfully, I was able to be honest about how I was feeling with Philippa in our Monday morning catch up. We had a really useful talk through ways to build in time to reflect and process information throughout my days.
I made sure to block time in my calendar to complete tasks and prepare for/reflect on meetings (I colour coded them according to topic so I could see where I was expecting a context switch, too). I found this helpful as the visualisation of what a day really looked like for me helped me to frame what I might need to adjust about my expectations/ways of working to ensure I got the most out of the hours in my day.
Monday rounded off with a retro on my first week with Philippa and Kevin. It was really interesting to have the 3 points of view (newbie, newbie’s line manager and onboarding manager) all in one place. It was a hugely worthwhile exercise for me as it validated that some of the things I found tricky were actually tricky and helped me to see where I could have approached things differently for a better outcome (for example, meeting a whole team together during their ‘normal’ catch ups and then having a one to one I found to be far more valuable than going straight into one to ones). I really hope the team keeps doing these end of first week retros because it was a great opportunity to pause and reflect on everything from offer of employment to end of first week.
I felt like I hit a good pace Monday so was feeling great about getting involved in the Intranet project with Eleanor and Lingjing on Tuesday. Projects are my ‘thing’ so to be able to think about how to set one up for success in a collaborative and inclusive way was a return to safety and stuff I definitely do know things about.
It was great to meet some of the stakeholders involved and hear their thoughts and concerns. It sparked some questions in my mind about how well we understood our stakeholder base and how would be best to engage going forward.
There’s always an amount of work you need to do before you can kick off a project successfully. I tend to be quite risk averse and so err on the side of too much rather than not enough. I mocked up a few sessions I thought would help to address the questions I had and also add value to the project prior to a formal kick off (stakeholder, knowledge and skills analysis sessions) and talked them through with Eleanor. She agreed the sessions would be of value now rather than later so we started planning those in. I felt like I reined myself in on this one and suggested the bare minimum of work and focussed it really pointedly at making sure we had the right people in the kick off so I was really pleased Eleanor agreed!
Wednesday dawned with an early morning COVID jab and then a lot of reading and digesting. I caught up with weeknotes and did some reminder reading about backup and disaster recovery best practice. There is SO MUCH information out there with all the contradictions and differences of opinions you expect on the internet these days (I thought this piece titled ‘Why 3–2–1 backup sucks’ was a little harsh but it did actually have some interesting alternative models in it). I tempered my reading with the most widely accepted sources in local and central government so The National Cyber Security Centre, Government Technology Code of Practice (and this blog on how local authorities have found using it). By the end of the day, I was happy that my understanding of best practice was pretty broadly what the world agrees is best practise and that I wouldn’t be asking too many stupid questions on the backup and DR project.
By the end of the day I could feel a headache and body aches creeping in…
Thursday and Friday is when what was a great balloon of the week was burst. My COVID job took me down like a sack of potatoes. I was out for the count. However, I will be mindful this week not to try and chase the 2 lost days and get out of the great rhythm I hit last week now I’m back.