Getting the job

About five minutes after I sat down at my desk this morning, the guy who interviewed me for the digital job walks in looking lost. I watch him, knowing that he’s searching for my manager to talk about me. Our eyes catch, and we nod, then he discovers my manager and closes the door behind him.

I knew this was coming, but it sat poorly in my stomach. I could hear her voice, if not the words. I didn’t much care what she said about me, what I hated was that someone so poorly suited to it was to stand in judgment of me.

I spoke to the Digital manager last week after I had the interview. He came down to see me, and we found an empty office to talk. He told me he was leaving in a month. He said that he had recommended me for the job, but it wasn’t his decision. He asked me how the interview had gone, and I scoffed at the idea of an ‘interview’ and expressed my reservations about the differing personalities. That’s good, isn’t it? He said. I couldn’t see what he meant until he expanded further, indicating without actually saying so that they – the powers that be – were aware of the contrast and that it might work in my favour. The inference was that, after a period, I might be placed in the top job.

That put a different spin on things. I was unexcited by the role, but it would be hard to turn down if there was a clear career path leading from it.

In the meantime, I interviewed for the other role on Friday. It still interests me much more. It may not pay as much initially, but I get training and certification in Intelligent Automation out of it. I find it pretty interesting, as well as compatible with my experience, and certification like that will open doors elsewhere as I get older. It’s a good investment, and in 12 months they plan for a Centre of Excellence which will create further opportunities. The interview went well.

I may get offered neither role, but I’ve decided – in principle – to accept whichever of the jobs is offered to me first (contingent on salary). I should hear back about the IA job by Wednesday. The digital job may be sooner.

You might think this activity would please me. It doesn’t. I hate the phoniness attached to the process. I just want to be me and do the job.


When it rains…

After applying for an internal job in digital the week before last, yesterday I interviewed for it.

Initially, I was to be interviewed by a combination of an HR person, the head of Digital, and the guy I would be reporting to. Come down to the interview; there was no HR person in sight, the Digital manager was called away elsewhere, and it was left to the guy who would be my direct boss.

I know him quite well, and he’s a lovely, competent person. We’ve worked together on bits and pieces over the journey, and he’s always been pleasant and helpful – unlike most of IT. Still, I wasn’t entirely thrilled when I heard he’d be my boss. Part of it was that I’ve never seen, or treated him, as anything other than an equal. It never occurred to me that he might be my superior (to be fair, it rarely does). The more significant concern is that he’s a retiring, reserved type and I’m hard at it and striving. No kidding, I reckon I’d overpower him without trying (and I wouldn’t be trying).

Regardless, we’re sitting there, and it’s less an interview than a conversation, and he admits he’s never interviewed a colleague before. I make reference to my CV at one stage, and he admits he’s not seen it, and I’m wondering what’s going on. I fill him in a little, and he tells me about the job, and the more he tells me, the less enthused I become.

Basically, a lot of it is managing issues with the digital entities, including service desk issues. That’s maybe 70%. The rest of it is more up my street, but still not thrilling. I know I can’t say no to the job, per se, but I’m thinking this is going to bore me to tears.

To put it in perspective. I’m in a role now where I can be both autonomous and very creative. Creativity is one of my strong points. I can look at a problem and come up with a variety of solutions, some of them sophisticated, some of them just smart, and a few right out of left field. It’s how I think, how I see. The problem is – as I’ve long articulated – is that while I can have a million smart ideas, I lack the leverage or authority to implement more than a scant few of them. Hence my eternal frustration.

Give me this new job, and I have a team about me that can probably build much of what I can conceive – but the role precludes creativity. It’s not my job to be smart like that or to formulate solutions. The position is about managing and coordinating disparate resources and no more.

But then – and isn’t this ironic? – another role popped up last week. It sounds much more interesting and a better fit for both my experience and aptitude – working with Intelligent automation (Robotics). This is a growing field and something good to get into, and it also aligns with how I think. Half of the solutions I scope are mapped out in Visio flowcharts. The job also includes full training in the app. All good for my CV.

The problem with the job is that it’s only a 12-month secondment, and the salary is $10K less than the other (but still more than what I earn now).

I feel as if I’m being fitted up for the digital job. It’s not a sure thing but, I suspect, mine to lose. I actually feel some obligation because of that. I’ve been complaining so long and the digital guys been so encouraging that I feel as if it would be rude to decline the role – and probably foolish, too.

I’d be no shoo-in to get the robotics job, though clearly, I’m a strong candidate. I’d enjoy it much more, and the potential opportunities are greater – but it’s no sure thing, and the money is less.

All this time I’ve been crying out for opportunities, but when they come, they come not singly but doubly. Watch this space.


So I return to work on Monday and I’m heading out for my morning coffee at around 9am and as I’m going in I run into the Digital Marketing manager as he’s coming in. We get on well, we closely on a few things, and generally have similar opinions on the organisation. We greet each other and he says: “did you see the job I posted?”

There was a position advertised internally for a BA/PM working in the digital team. I checked it out but it specified some technical requirements which I had no specific experience with. I’d actually suggested it to my offsider as something he might be interested in. He was, but he didn’t.

So, after the manager spoke to me I checked it out again. He’d urged me to apply for it. He told me I’d be working with him, as if that had always been the plan. Lot more money, he said, and waived off my hesitation over the experience I didn’t have. When I checked out the PD I found it a better fit than I’d first presumed. Sure, I didn’t have experience with Drupal (which is pretty basic anyway), but I had all this relevant job experience which few others here could match. So, I sent in an application.

Applications close today. I guess I’ll hear something next week. I haven’t spoken to the manager since as he’s in Brisbane, and while it’s encouraging I’ve learned that this is not a place to presume anything. I’ve been disappointed before.

Ideally, I’d like to get out of this organisation altogether, but more than anything I want to get away from the present management, which is uninspired and barely competent. I have a strong suspicion that I am being deliberately sidelined and denied opportunities. It’s routine that I’m kept in the dark about activities pertinent to my role, and things that should belong to me are given to others. I’ve made reference previously about being left out of invitations to events I’m entitled to attend, and it’s happened again this week.

Another situation has come to light which isn’t surprising, but goes a long way towards confirming my suspicions.

About two years ago I put together a detailed proposal for a new function. I was told at the time they didn’t have the resources for it, but a year ago they actually created the function, though (typically) without any reference to me. In fact I wasn’t even made aware of this (typically, once more), until the person given responsibility for it had to come to me with questions and to get a copy of one of the design docs I’d created.

Ultimately it was implemented in a half-arsed way (trademark here), and at no point was it acknowledged that this was my (very comprehensive) idea. I don’t know if someone else sought to take the credit as one of their KPIs, but it was clearly deliberate that I was left out of it.

One of the consequences of this is that when I do things now I’m careful about how I manage it. I’m more inclined these days to hand off these ideas to those I can trust. That means I get no credit for these things, but it also means I have a measure of control working in the background prompting and refining and striving to get it just right. I’m always more interested in getting the job right than I am in due credit. In fact, it’s not about the credit denied – I’m paid to do this, after all – the issue is others claiming credit that’s not rightly theirs.

There was another function I conceived of maybe 18 months ago. Once more, as is my way, I consulted widely and documented it in detail. As time has gone on I’ve fleshed out the function, and role, more completely, and been a strident champion for the role. There’s been a desperate need for this function but I’ve been told all along there’s no budget for it until the next financial year – basically the week after next.

Outside of the department there’ve been advocates for me running that show when it happens, but it’s very clear that’s never going to be the case – regardless that, once more, it’s my conception, that no-one has a better understanding of the requirements and actual detail, and that, informally, I’m doing much of it now.

For the last six months my manager has effectively been hedging that role against me. Today I learned that for the last six months that she’s been urging it onto my offsider, who is much more user friendly than me – but who has nothing to do with anything to do with it presently.

There’s been a problem with my manager for a while. I think she’s a terrible leader and average manager. She does some things well, but other things she’s deplorable at. One of my biggest issues with her is ethical. It’s my belief that your manager should be an advocate for you, but I suspect just the opposite in my case. I think a part of it is purely political – she’ll always do what is best for her, which is very common around here. I also think she’s wary of my capabilities and for that reason tries to keep me in a box – that’s why I’m kept in the dark, why she prefers others, why she’s careful to deny me credit. I think she sees me as a threat, which I’m not. I actually believe she bad-mouths me to others.

I’m aware this makes me sound paranoid, but there have been so many instances over an extended period that there has to be some explanation for it. I actually reported it to HR at one point, to get it on the record, though I would never make anything formal of it.

The reality of this is that if they turned around and actually offered me this role I’d have to think twice about accepting it. If I’m to be stuck in this area I’d be better off with it, but what I need really is to get out of this toxic environment. Like I said, I think this is one reason I’ve been crook.

So, if I can’t get a job outside the joint then anywhere is better than here, and the job I’ve applied for is one a different floor sitting just outside the CEO’s office reporting to someone different and working with a different bunch of people. There’s plenty I rate down here and like, but it’s an unprofessional environment and I want to be in a place where my work is properly valued and understood. I reckon my peace of mind would go through the roof.

Just like old times

When I had my own consultancy business I used to attend regular networking functions as a means of meeting prospective clients and promoting myself. By and large I disliked these events. I’m not made for the superficial glad-handing that is part and parcel of these things. I don’t like to blow my trumpet too hard and hyperbole is not my go. Some of these events can be pretty feral. Most people are reasonable and friendly, but there are occasions you’ll struggle to get your hand back after a handshake, and it goes without saying that everyone wants something out of you.

I always made a point of going to catered events because it was only tolerable with a drink in my hand (though – to be fair – I met many interesting people, and even dated one). And I wouldn’t go unless there was an interesting speaker.

A good speaker or subject would drag me out even when I wasn’t trying to sell something, and this was another essential aspect of these get togethers. I presumed the opportunities of getting new business from these events was minimal, and was proven right, but the opportunity of learning something new and important and interesting was always an allure. It was my way of keeping across things as generally the subjects were cutting edge.

I went to another such event last night, the first in ages. I got the invite out of the blue as way back when I attended their previous meetings. It was in the city, there was beer on tap, good cheese and tasty hot food and – as it turned out – the topics were both useful and interesting (cyber-security in its different guises, and SD-WANs).

I sat there listening with my mind ticking over trying to put things into context and imagining how I would apply these learnings in a real world situation. I connected these things with other things I knew, putting together a conceptual picture. This is what I’m good at, but it’s not dissimilar from the process of writing whereby I take in information piecemeal and begin layering it, using my imagination to make connections and fill the gaps in between.

Before and afterwards I did the usual glad-handing, though without much commitment. I was more interested in hearing other people’s stories. As I did I found my mind whirring once more. Responses came automatically to my lips, experience informing my words. I heard myself and was surprised by authoritative and knowledgeable I sounded. It’s not that I don’t know, it’s just that it’s so rarely called upon these days that I forget I have that knowledge. Come the moment there it was, and I found myself much like the guy elevated to a higher level who finds his performance lifting to match the challenge.

I left thinking about much I miss actually using my brain in that way. Feels an awful waste, but whatever.

I walked to Flinders Street station in my suit. It was getting on towards 9pm and it was dark and city crowds dispersed for the day. In a way that was familiar as well – how many times have I headed home after dark coming from a CBD bar or dinner, or an event like this? Hundreds of times. Back in the day I’d have grabbed a potato cake from the platform kiosk for some sustenance on the homeward journey. Those kiosks are now gone in the name of alleged progress, so instead I indulged myself in a bagful of lollies from the lolly shop on the concourse. I chewed on them decadently as the train took me home, a book in my ears and an attractive woman across from me.

Same shit

I’ve been back at work short of a week and while it hasn’t been that bad nothing really has changed. I’m almost certain I’ve never worked for a less competent organisation than this. Even the simple things they manage to fuck up.

An example of that is an event they held last Friday night for more senior staff to celebrate an event. These happen occasionally and I generally attend, though often they’re pretty dull affairs. On this occasion I had no idea of the event until about 4.30 on Friday when a colleague on the other side of the building called me to see if I was going. What’re you talking about? I asked. He answered as if I should already know all about it, but I’d not heard a thing.

I went and had a chat with the organiser, a lovely woman I often share a laugh with. She told me she’d been delegated the task by my manager. She’d sent out the invitations excluding me, and others, upon instruction. She’d got some feedback and been forced to invite some of the others that had missed out, and had actually made the point of asking my manager if I should be included, along with my offsider. The answer she received was a strong no.

In effect this meant that my counterparts in other areas were invited, but we were left out without explanation. Now, I wouldn’t have attended anyway, but this is really poor, though typical of the place. It’s woeful management and I intend to bring it up in my next meeting with my manager. As it turns out my offsider had felt similarly aggrieved.

This sort of episode makes me shake my head, but I don’t take it personally. I don’t really care at that level. It riles me from a professional point of view though. Get it right! It’s not as if this was particularly challenging.

Otherwise there’s a bit of action stirring with recruiters. The digital manager here gave me a list of people to contact and they’ve been receptive – nothing’s better than a qualified referral. Let’s see what happens.

Back to the drudge

Back at work as of yesterday and while it was something I dreaded it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I was back in my groove pretty quickly and driven on to make sure nothing had been fucked up in my absence, and that no-one had tried to interfere with my stuff.

Second day back and the novelty has worn off, but it’s okay still and tomorrow in any case is another public holiday. I’ll be sitting there watching the big Anzac day clash sipping on a bottle of wine with a friend and chewing on home-made pork pot-stickers.

There’s very little to report on from the work perspective, which is both good and bad. Good in the sense that nothing was fucked up; bad in the sense that it would be nice if something new and interesting occasionally occurred.

I was back in the saddle and in control pretty quickly. After that I caught up with a few people and had informal meetings. One of those was with the marketing director who sat down with me and mapped out a list of people I should contact regarding job opportunities elsewhere. I’ve already started on that.

This was one of the disappointing aspects of my time off. I’d hope to get some real traction in the job search and instead got a lot of wheel spin. There seemed little about relevant to me, and while I had a few conversations nothing much of substance came out of it. I returned to work with only one iron in the fire, and that not particularly encouraging with the NBN.

These days it’s all about contacts and networking. I used to have a bunch of good contacts and a great network. Over the years many of those have moved on and my time in the wilderness was fatal for quite a few of those relationships. I’m reliant on the support of others, which is why the leg-up yesterday was so valuable.

I’m off to a networking function next week and hope to be meeting up with some of these contacts for a coffee and a discussion about how we can do business together.

Unfunny comedies

I was in a meeting yesterday which sums up much of my disdain for this place.

Including me, there were seven of us in the meeting. The meeting was called by someone else but supposedly was my meeting, though I get nothing out of it and generally feel as if I’m reporting to the headmaster.

In the meeting yesterday there were three people who didn’t say a word over the 35 minutes we were in the room. Two of them were the initial reason for the meeting. I was looking for assistance to help me manage the back-end of the chatbot and they were the best options – I didn’t need or want the others, but then mediocrity needs a quorum. That they said nothing surprised me not at all because that’s what they’ve done – nothing. That’s despite repeated requests and offers to sit with them, etc. They’re busy, I get that, but if they don’t come to the party then basically the whole point of it is moot to me. So they just sat there like stunned mullets.

The other silent visitor was someone who I don’t even know why she was there. Probably invited herself.

Then there were the two Ops managers, including my direct manager. They’ve shown no interest otherwise but put them in a meeting like this and they’re like a couple of government back-benchers sniffing a photo opportunity and willing to shoulder the other out of the way. They’re all smiles in front of the camera, but once it’s gone they couldn’t give a shit. It’s probably more acute in this industry, but they epitomise much of my experience with middle managers – mediocrities who think they’re more important than they are and always trying to prove it. They lack all self-awareness.

Give them a platform like this and they visibly inflate, but it’s all about them. They’re trying to sketch out their angle whilst seeming managerial.

There was another manager dialling in from Brisbane, but for him, the focus was on the work. He gave no thought to how he looked or how he might be able to leverage the situation. He’s a smart guy who feels no need to prove it. He’s solutions focussed, and though we sometimes disagree on what the best solution looks like I respect him. Furthermore, I can work with him because he doesn’t go away when the cameras do.

Then there was the digital manager, the guy I have a dotted line into for this project, basically there at my behest. I wanted him there because he could say things I couldn’t, and reinforce some key points. I’m junior to everyone at that meeting bar the silent ones, but he’s senior to all of them.

I’ve had my occasional issues with him – I don’t trust him altogether and think he’s manipulative with a good portion of wide boy in him, but he’s smart, smarter than most of them there, and though he’s running a strong agenda as well, his agenda boils down to getting the best result.

Finally, there’s me. You know how I feel, but I contain it pretty well. I’m very to the point. I’m always all about the work, though naturally, I have my own opinion of how that work should go. I’ve been trying to push that awhile, but against vested interests. I don’t bother with any fripperies because I don’t want to have that relationship with most of these people. I butt up against a few of them regularly and they generally know that I see things differently to what they do.

There’s one who has a smug manner and a permanent sneer. He likes brow-beat others to his way of thinking and is not above being sneaky and trying to arrange things to his advantage behind the back of others. Anyway, I refuse to submit to this character and so he knows we’re in opposite camps.

All of this explains a lot of what I feel here. I hate this rubbish, I hate how it makes me think these things, and I hate how it makes me feel. I’m a simple character these days. All I want to do is do the job to the best of my ability, but I’m unwilling to step aside from it. I don’t want anything to do with politics or petty ambitions but I have to deal with those things. I’m sick of the abject mediocrity and I’m all too aware of the absurdity of it all.

Half of me is utterly dismayed, and the other half laughing at the human comedy. It’s a bitter laugh though because it’s a dark comedy.