Saturday, November 09, 2013

First week

Starting a new jobs seems to have some curious side effects. This week I bought (all online):

  • two pairs of shoes (returning one that doesn't fit)
  • one fancy backpack (For comfort, I have to use a backpack and decided it would be good to have one that looks more "professional") (Update: post backpack receipt I've gotten several unsolicited compliments--plus it's comfortable.)
  • heaps of clothing--several nice shirts, two pairs of pants (both jeans, so not for work, except on Friday), two skirts (plan to keep the one that fits, I should be so lucky) (One pair of jeans fit, all but one shirt fit, the skirts didn't fit.)
  • A new computer and printer (a long time coming) (Don't get me started on the nightmare setting up a new computer.)
  • And today, a new table lamp (the only in-person purchase!) (Wasn't sure about this--but it's good. Not bright enough, but it looks perfect.)

I guess we're just busting out all over.

Anyway, what about the actual job? So far, I like it. I haven't done very much but the whole feeling of the place is different. I have my own office--not everyone does, but everyone at my level does. I have a window, a thermostat, and a bunch of new office supplies. We have a little kitchen/commen room with a full size fridge, microwave, and sink. Paper towels, plates, and cups are provided for all to use. There's one of those "pod" coffee makers and an abundance of coffee, tea, and cocoa. None of these are make-or-break items, but small comforts that make it more pleasant to be in the office. They send the message that the employees are valued.

What is the actual work like? Well, it's hard to say just yet. The first week, I had to read two large documents, provide feedback on one, and later help out with a little data entry. What happened when I gave my feedback was most interesting. First, I had quite a lot of (hopefully) constructive things to say, even though the topic of the paper was unfamiliar to me. What I did understand was how the document should be organized and structured and the methodological issues. Second, all of my feedback was greeted almost rapturously.

Turns out the junior staff had made a lot of the same critiques but no one was listening to them (what is UP grown ups?). When I swept in, an outsider, with a "fresh" perspective, they really seemed to grasp what I had to say.

This was a funny feeling--I thought, "huh, I know some stuff...and it's not stuff that people here already know." When I wrote an email with that sentiment to my mom, her response was that confidence rebuilding was in order and that I had more to share than input at meetings. I've been loathe to admit that working for that horrible person touched my confidence, but Mom isn't the first person to remark on it. I tend to be a mix of humble and confident, which I don't think is all that unusual, especially for a woman. I do feel confident that I know certain things, but I also know that absolute certainty is a trap. Look at how it trapped my new coworkers--they weren't even listening to their junior staff!

Anyway, I hardly want to show up at new place and start telling folks that everything they've been doing is wrong. It wouldn't be true anyway. They seem to be doing a lot right--the problem is more that they're doing too much. The place has doubled in size in the last year or so. That's a huge management challenge. With so many new staff running around and so many complicated projects, you're going to have managment problems. The structure just isn't set up to manage a staff of the current size. At any rate, I am happy to be part of the team.

Grateful for: a new start.

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