Shock of the New : First Week New Job

Mon 19 – Sun 25 April 2021

As predicted in my previous blog (read it here), last week was primarily about the week-long induction for my new job. Definitely a ‘shock’ in that I was starting a new job in a new organisation for the first time in over a decade. And I felt like a complete ‘newbie’ on a steep learning curve. Though the job is giving me new perspectives. And it is fascinating how change in one area of your life makes changes in other parts; aiding one in seeing and thinking about things differently in general.

The shock of the new

My New Job

I have started as Business Development Manager (Social Change) at the global software consultancy Thoughtworks. In practical terms it suits me fine. Part-time so I can carry on with my caring duties for mum, look after my own health, and pursue other interests like personal development, reading, and culture. And a one year contract so basically a year to find out if we are compatible. Plus great experience even if the contract isn’t extended. 🙂

A genuinely exciting role

My career to date has been almost totally in the ‘not-for-profit’ sector albeit with some time in the public sector. And I have always had a passion for innovation noting my involvement in establishing the tech for good movement. Now I am working at a big private company with digital innovation at the heart of what it does. I see myself at the three way point between tech excellence, the private sector, and the not-for-profit sector; as an adaptor ensuring these 3 strands can work together successfully to do amazing things. 🙂

Be happy and grateful about nice things

Induction and what I learnt in my first week

Being part of a large organisation, I had to wait for a start date that fitted with the rolling induction programme. The big advantage of this is that I was part of a group of newbies which gave us the chance to bond and learn from each other. I must say I had such a nice group of fellow new starters and I am grateful for their patience, support, and assistance. 🙂 Ultimately success anywhere is about how well people relate to each other.

So what did I learn from the induction, what was the ‘new’?

  • There is a risk in staying somewhere too long I spent over a decade at Comic Relief albeit doing different jobs. However, I became ingrained with its culture, processes, systems, and thinking. Not a problem in that you don’t want people leaving jobs too quickly. But my experience there has now become my central reference point and I need to relearn a lot of things.
  • I need to develop new tech skills I’ve got a Macbook now and I’m using Google Workspace. In my career to date, I’ve used Windows laptops and Microsoft 365 (Office). It’s not a huge difference but it does mean I need to get to grips with this newness. Not always so easy for us people in our mid-50s with loads of life baggage. 🙂
  • There is value in doing volunteering between jobs Volunteering is not always about altruism. It can also be about acquiring new skills. With hindsight, I could have benefited from doing just one day volunteering when I was between jobs. Not least to help de-learn the culture of my previous employer. Though such volunteering would have had to be just online so may not have been as useful or easy.
  • Totally online inductions are hard work You miss the in-person inter-action, that point where you can show someone your screen or phone and say ‘what do I do now?’ Simple things like that are important in enabling learning and building social capital. Indeed, my experience this week echoes the theory that totally online may increase productivity but decreases innovation and creativity.

Further learning points and reflections

4 more things I have realised from the induction about me and the new organisation I work for

  • I need to change my reference point and be more open-minded My experience is in the not-for-profit sector. And I realise I have made assumptions that aren’t true. For instance, I thought other organisations did not care as much about D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) as not-for-profit ones. But I’m massively impressed with how far my new employer emphasises D&I in every aspect of its work – same with climate change. 🙂
  • There is more emphasis than I expected on Learning and Development as well as giving and receiving Feedback Being able to offer the best quality service relies on these two things. People need to be upskilled via their skills being continually modernised. Thus there is a very strong learning culture and many learning resources. Similarly, development comes through receiving feedback with the expectation that we frequently provide feedback and act on that we receive.
  • The client really is at the centre of everything Many talk about being customer focused and nearly everywhere I have worked receives funding from external sources. But it is fascinating to be in an organisation that is basically employed by others to provide solutions. In this context, everything is based around ensuring the client is happy with what is being provided and that it meets their requirements leading to a mutually successful outcome.
  • I’m definitely matrix-working in a flat structure Again I have worked at organisations where there is much talk of both matrix-working and flat structure. I am now seeing it in reality. There is keen avoidance of hierarchy and fixed lines. Rather people work in task-focused multi-skilled teams drawn together for as long as is needed to complete the task they are working on.

Family and Friends

Mum, brother, partner – thanks for your support 🙂

It is clear from the tone of my previous blog (read it here) that I was very anxious about starting my new job. And it’s been a good week but not an easy one. But with all things we worry about, the best thing is just to face them and get on with whatever is worrying you. Remember, ‘even this too shall pass’.

What I can say is that it’s been really inspiring with so many new things happening, to have the full support of my family. I look after my mum but I’ve had to focus on the induction so I’ve been working from my partner’s place. Thus, my brilliant brother has stepped into the breach spending time with mum last week. Both my mum and brother have been speaking to me everyday to check all is going OK. And I’ve had my partner Dave reassuring and advising me. Genuinely, I am so lucky to have this support. 🙂

Friends

The induction has taken up most of my time and headspace over the last week. Having started the job, I felt it was the right time to put the details onto social media. And it has been really heart-warming to have so many friends and colleagues give me their congratulations. We should never base friendships just on their usefulness to our careers. But events like a new job announcement give people the chance to offer each other congratulations as well as renew connections.

Personal Development

Tech

My new role is making me think afresh and from a different perspective about my personal development particularly around tech. I spent a week primarily with devs (developers) and there is no way I am ever going to have their level of digital knowledge and expertise. The best I think I can hope for is to have enhanced general awareness of how tech ‘works’. Thus perhaps I should focus more on being proficient at managing, leading and co-ordinating tech projects as well as knowing how to use key software rather than trying to learn coding? Food for thought.

progress being made

Languages

However, if my new job has made me query the value of doing learning around coding, it has been the opposite around language learning. I definitely understand human spoken languages better than I do computer ones. Though there are still people who can do them better than me. But I really want to speak more languages and I think I can make real gains here – indeed, I have already done so. Thus I should push on with my language learning.

In light of this new awareness, unfortunate last week that I made less progress than normal. But that was simply because I basically spent so much time in the induction. Sometimes you can have increased awareness of something but be unable to act on it straight away. 🙁 However, at the weekend I started a new policy of taking small opportunities to do language modules throughout the day.

Outside a European street cafe at night

Health and Efficiency

Sleep and anxiety

The anxiety clearly apparent in my previous blog has declined as the week passed. Not to say that I haven’t had some hairy moments. Particularly in dealing with the new software and thinking my new Macbook had died when I updated the operating system. 🙁 But I’m much better in my head now; a clear example of what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 🙂 The impact on my sleep is that I’ve not been doing so much waking in the middle of the night with my head churning. Although I am still waking very early due to the lighter mornings.

Walking

Not so much long walking between mum’s and Dave’s as I based myself at Dave’s for stability during the induction. However, walked over to mum’s to spend the weekend with her. Saturday morning was bright and dry but chilly. Had a lovely relaxing long walk with a couple of coffee stops. My head felt so clear and I felt so relaxed… 🙂

Stable weight

I’m weighing myself regularly but have stopped recording it on my website. Simply I am monitoring that it stays in the 13-3 to 13-5 ‘safe zone’. It fluctuates within that zone and it’s not worth worrying about a pound or two difference each week. Rather it’s important to know that I have a stable base from which I can launch a sustained weight loss in the future if that is what I really want to do.

man weighing himself

Books and Reading

Despite everything going on with my new job and the induction, 2 books finished last week. 🙂

‘The Panda Book of Horror’

A wonderfully silly collection of short stories featuring renegade Time Lord Iris Wildthyme and her companion Panda – part of the Dr Who universe. Supposedly tales about horror and monsters but that’s normal fayre for Dr Who stories. Including stories by some of my favourite Dr Who writers. Indeed, the book was jointly edited by Paul Magrs who I think is a very good writer. You can read more about him here.

‘Nightdreamers’

This is a Dr Who novella by the writer Tom Arden. It features the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and companion Jo Grant. A whimsical story where the Doctor and Jo find themselves caught up in court intrigue on a planet that is like a space age version of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Silly but actually very complex with lots of things and themes going on. Indeed, some of the ideas were picked up in later adventures like a planet being the egg of a space creature.

Doctor Who's Tardis

Sustainability

My new job has given me a new impetus around sustainability. Not least because tackling the climate crisis is a really important issue to the organisation and my new colleagues. So I’ve been continuing to offload objects for re-loving. And I’ve been back to my favourite charity shop with me and Dave taking down 2 bags of stuff and a painting to donate. The birds at Dave’s are OK, enjoying the new mini solar-powered fountain on his balcony. Meanwhile, the plants at mum’s and Dave’s are doing well. Apart from my poor succulent which has deteriorated since I watered it for the first time in 6 months. I just don’t understand succulents. 🙁

But I am worried about the lack of rain in April – a sign of climate change. The ground is so dry and starting to crack. Possibility of no rain for a fortnight. This is not normal. 🙁

sunny sky with bits of cloud

Art and Culture

‘Lacombe, Lucien’

My major cultural achievement of last week was finishing watching this film. I mainly do my film watching after I get up around 7 am and before I get ready for work about 8 am. ‘Lacombe, Lucien’ is a nice piece of French cinema from the mid-1970s – details about it here. It’s the story of a teenager in 1944 occupied France who decides to join the German war effort. Controversial because is suggests collaboration was widespread.

The beautiful lead actor, Pierre Blaise, was not actually a trained actor. The director decided he wanted authenticity and hired Blaise, then a woodcutter. And he brought genuine belief in Lucien’s character – rough and inarticulate but enjoying his new found power. I wondered why I didn’t know about his later career. Turned out he was killed in a car accident shortly after making this film aged just 20. A tragedy you can read more about here. 🙁

The Week Ahead

  • First proper week, I suppose, in my new job. I want to work Mon, Wed, Fri. Not going to happen next week because of things set up before I arrived. But I am going to try to work to my day-on/day-off rota from the following week. 🙂
  • Looking forward to learning new things and building new skills 🙂
  • Gonna try to spend more time with mum which will also mean more long walks between her place and Dave’s so win-win 🙂
  • Must carry on with my tech personal development although perhaps with a change of emphasis. And I will continue to do my much-loved language learning.
  • I will move my reading focus to the beautifully evocative ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell
  • Hopefully as things are less ‘new’ and more ‘normal’ so perhaps I can spend more time enjoying culture online
  • All my sustainability themes will go on: offloading material stuff I don’t need, looking after the plants and birds, supporting my local charity shops 🙂

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