Assuming the best

So as I was asked I submitted a PD for the new role I was proposing for myself to the department head on Thursday. They had an offsite on Friday and I didn’t expect any immediate feedback, and in my mind thought if and when I got a response it would likely be some abbreviated version of what I was suggesting.

On Friday I popped upstairs to catch up with one of the guys in the digital team about something we’ve been working on together. He wasn’t there but his boss, the Digital Marketing manager, was.

“How you going, big fella?” he said to me. I responded in kind and we chatted for a couple of minutes before he suggested we adjourn to a meeting room for a private chat. He gathered up some papers and led the way.

In the meeting room he told me that a re-structure had been agreed to, very hush-hush, no-one knew anything about it yet, not even my boss, don’t say a word. He then proceeded to explain to me, spreading out an org chart for me to see.

In the re-structure the current digital team is split out into two, but augmented by a couple of new roles, one responsible for the Sales department, and the other Ops. These roles would be situated within the digital team and be responsible for the digital/social media and selected IT requirements of those departments, and reporting into them still. Salaries would be covered by the originating department.

Looking at it I thought how amazingly opportune – which doubtless isn’t coincidental. The other thing I thought is that I should be a shoo-in for the Ops role assuming it goes ahead – essentially it’s what I’m doing now, there are no other candidates internally, and I’m the man who has just proposed a role virtually identical to this. If not me, then who?

On the face of it, very encouraging, however I can’t believe it until it happens. I assume the re-structure will go ahead, but can’t be certain. I assume the head of Ops will agree to the arrangement, but can’t be certain. I assume he’ll nominate me for that role, and I’m almost certain. And assuming all of that transpires, I assume I’ll be paid a digital marketing salary, but of that I’m full of doubt. Should happen, but my fear is that they’ll find another way to stiff me.

All of this I have to wait and see on. Clearly I’m the man the Digital Marketing manager wants otherwise he wouldn’t have taken me into his confidence, but it’s not his decision. One way or another I should know soon-ish. When I asked the time frame for this I was told by the end of the month.

You know how it is, I don’t want to count my chickens or get too hopeful, but this time I assume it might actually happen.


Pitching it

I met today with the head of Digital Marketing to discuss job opportunities. It was suggested to me I should speak to him by a member of his team. I’ve been working closely with him on a project and he knows I’m unhappy. So I arranged a coffee meeting offsite.

I get on pretty well this guy generally, though we have clashed. I wrote about one of those circumstances a little while ago. We’re both straight-shooters and prefer robust conversation and so never a big deal, no matter how it was portrayed by others. He’s dynamic and has ideas and doesn’t mind rocking the boat, and this is a boat that needs rocking. We’re in accord with a lot of things.

So he knows pretty well ahead of time what I want. We have a general conversation about my situation before I go into specifics. Basically I feel underutilised and often undermined. I don’t have the authority a position like mine requires and am sidelined quite often for reasons that generally amount to petulance or politics.

He’s upfront that he thinks I’m a very good operator and would like me onside. He understands my frustrations, but recommends I should make some tactical withdrawals occasionally. I know myself that when I get going I tend to skewer people, which is not always to my benefit – I just get so exasperated sometimes and yes, disdainful too. A lot of that comes with personal frustration given the role I have, but he has a point.

He recommends I speak to the big boss. He suggests I pitch an argument parlaying my recent, very heavy involvement with Digital, which is likely to continue for a while yet. Basically he suggests that I sell myself as an interface between Ops and Digital, reporting to Ops still, but embedded within Digital.

It makes sense in multiple ways. Firstly, regardless of what my job description says, I work well beyond the narrow confines of that, and with a very heavy trend towards digital, which is reflective of trends generally. Secondly, though I’m servicing Ops my role is externally facing simply because I rely upon other teams, people, departments to get things done. I can the ideas, but there are very few I can implement solo. I need to be in the market, and one of the issues is that I’m kept from it. Finally, Digital have a lot more muscle than Ops and by associating myself with them we can leverage their influence.

Proposing this has some risks. For a start I’m sure it will further piss off my manager, who these days is generally prickly to start with (to an extent that it threatens to become untenable). If I pitch this and it fails then I may burn my bridges with her.

On balance I think there’s a good chance that the big guy will go for some variation of it as really he can only benefit. I do a lot of stuff for him and he’s relying on me for a lot. I’m proposing taking that and giving it a boost. He might have to cough up some extra dollars (I certainly hope so), but this is the opportunity to get some real traction. Obviously if he takes this and seeks feedback from the Digital Manager he’ll get the big thumbs up.

I’m sure the DM is sincere in wanting to assist me, but I’m under no illusion that it’s a set-up which he would benefit from as well. If this gets adopted then he extends his influence through me, whilst also gaining the benefit of my skillset within his team. In actual fact if it is agreed to I doubt it will be as pure as that, but we’ll see.

I’ve arranged a meeting with the big guy on Wednesday to discuss this. Hopefully we find out then.

One down…

The first of my two projects went live yesterday. It was a bit frantic leading up to it, but in the end it went off without a hitch and right on time. Feedback has been positive and overall there’s a sense of relief that it’s done and we can move onto other things.

The other thing is another project which is fraught with technical complexity. My end of it is under control, but we’re dependent on others and that’s where the complexity and the potential difficulties lie. There’s still some uncertainty – we’re due to go live tomorrow, but that depends on something happening this afternoon (out of my hands).

From my point of view I want to get hands and eyes on before committing to switching it on – it’s a chatbot. I’ve seen it in test, played with it a bit there, but really want to get hands on the production version. There’s nothing more I can do but that. Everything is else is ready, and worst case scenario at this point is that we have a limited launch – which is fine.

Overall, considering the challenges, am feeling fine. I enjoy being in the thick of it and realise how much I’ve missed it.

As I’ve said before, it’s when I feel at my best. I’m organised, I consider every eventuality and plan for contingency, but come the moment what I’m best at is dealing with the random issues that need to be assessed and dealt with quickly and definitely. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve missed my vocation – I’m good at the thing a lot of people are poor at because the stress of the moment elevates me. I find clarity.

Anyway, that’s now. Doubtless there will be ongoing maintenance for both projects in the weeks ahead, but otherwise there’s no real projects upcoming, so – back to dull normality.

Too busy to post

I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been full-on with work. As it happens I’m neck deep in a couple of projects which are due to go-live next week. I’m pretty much the lead on most so I’m busy ticking things off or sorting out problems or organising for things to be done and asking questions and generally racing one particular set of circumstances and another very different set of circumstances.
It’s challenging, not the least because you’re multi-tasking all the time and need to keep separate and organised in your mind the specifics of the different projects, including where you’re at and what needs to come next.
I find it invigorating. That’s what I work for. One of the reasons, anyway. I love being tested. I challenge myself to keep on top and not just manage it, but deliver a superior outcome.
So, I’ll write more when I have time, but expect it to be full on for another week.

What’s mine isn’t hers

Thursday last week I got a message through LinkedIn from a HR guy interested in talking to me about a job. It was a good job, and the organisation top notch. We organised to catch up by phone at 10 the next day.

At about 9.55 Friday I went downstairs, bought a coffee, sat down at a table and dialled his number. It went to voicemail and I left him a message. I sipped my coffee. Ten minutes later I called again. This time the phone rang out. I went back upstairs, left him a message via LinkedIn inviting him to call me, and waited. To this moment I haven’t heard back from him by phone or message. It’s pretty poor, but it’s the sort of behaviour I’ve become accustomed to.

On Monday at work my manager takes me aside and says she has a proper job for me. It’s 3.30 when we catch up. She explains she wants me to put together a proposal to connect our corporate Facebook account to the operational area via some sort of chat functionality. Besides the technical aspects of it, I also had to consider resources, protocols and processes to manage it. That I had to present by Thursday morning.

I smiled at that. Fat chance, I thought, especially given there was a public holiday in between. As it turned out the people I needed to speak to had taken time off too, and so I went back to her and told her no way it was going to happen, and realistically not much chance of getting it a week beyond that. There’s a lot to it – a lot more than she was able to comprehend – not the least the technical components that have to be scoped and customised.

The curious thing about all this is that the job had been sitting on my manager’s desk for three weeks before this. I know that because I cocked an eye when I heard about it. I was sceptical then of her ability to put this together – she hasn’t the experience in this area, and tends to take a shallow perspective of things.

What’s happened, of course, is that she’s got this far before realising she can’t do it. What she had prepared was a motherhood statement and nothing more. I was her get out option. Give it to me and it became my problem. I do the work and she becomes the hero.

Yeah, I felt pretty cynical about it. This is a long way from the first time this has happened. That’s one of the reasons she covets me and keeps me from getting publicly involved in these initiatives. If she keeps me safe she can call on me, use my words as her words, take my advice and parlay it as hers, and ultimately use my work and palm it off as her own. I’m sick of this, and though this time it was a ridiculous request I was quite happy to have it slip.

Let’s not forget, she gets all this for my bargain basement salary.

When I left work Monday I felt pretty jaded by it all. Though I’m looking for other work, the behaviour of recruiters like I described above makes it feel like a bad joke. I felt trapped and over a glass or two of wine I wanted to reflect on that. What options did I have?

So, back to work today and before 9 o’clock a lie told to me has been exposed inadvertently by another. The lie was by my manager. It seemed a small lie, an unnecessary lie, and I wondered why she had bothered. It couldn’t be justified as a white lie. I stood there shaking my head. Curious, I said aloud. But it just added to the sense of infamy: not only does she want me do her work, she lies to me as well.

It demonstrates a fundamental gap between who she is and who I am. I may be a lot of things, but I’m pretty straight, and take pride in that. (I might even suggest that I’m notorious for it).

This episode epitomises my disillusion with this place. I’ll do my job, and do it well, but I’m taking care now that the big boss – her boss – is aware of what I’m doing too, just so she can’t claim what isn’t hers.

Job searching

Searching for a new job is a very frustrating exercise. Not only must you deal with recruiters who, almost universally are a dodgy lot, but there’s the caprice of the job market to deal with too.

I had a call last week from a guy I used to work with here. He was a top operator, a cool bloke, and very down to earth. We got on well and I was saddened when he left, though I understood completely why he did – for much the same reasons I have. So he contacted me to say he had a job opening where he worked I might be interested in. Basically the job was as an IT manager with good money and a car tossed in on top. Would I be interested? I would be.

He sent me a link to the job and it checked out pretty much except for a couple of minor things they were looking for I didn’t have. I thanked him and set myself to submit a application over the weekend. All good.

Except when I sat down to submit my application the job had disappeared, seemingly filled. I sent him a message to let him know. If there’s no job to apply for I can’t apply for it. He had no idea what was going on but asked me to send him a copy of my resume and he would present it upstairs. I’ve done that bow, but no great expectations.

Then there was another job at the CSIRO. I was a good fit for the job and it’s an organisation I’d love to work at. A positive sign was that someone from CSIRO had browsed my profile when the job came up. Once more I sat down to submit my comprehensive application (having completed half of it previously) and I was prevented from doing so because, as the site stated, the job had been filled.

As it stands I have but one outstanding application, that with the ATO, but reckon that might take a while to resolve.

In between times I found myself having a chat to the departmental head at the office cocktail party a couple of weeks ago. We get on well, better than he does with my manager, or any other of the managers. I think that’s because we both come from corporate backgrounds, and recognise it in the other. Most of the managers have either been here from day one and progressed with the company without exposure to anything different, or else have come from smaller, suburban companies. By comparison he and I could compare corporate notes all night. I’m biased, but I reckon it gives us an edge because we’ve been exposed to cultures and practices both demanding and professional. Anyway, we have similar war stories.

He knows I’m not happy here and appears to understand completely. More than that, he seems sympathetic. It’s an indictment on the company here that he can figure I’d be looking elsewhere, yet not be in a position to encourage me to stay. After swapping some stories he basically told me to relax and take my time, look for a job if you have to, but don’t feel under pressure to rush it or keep them abreast. He was curious, but the message he left me with was to take my time and make the right choice. In the meantime, he’ll cover my back.

Interesting, but I appreciate it. It’s taken some of the pressure off. I’m very keen to move on, but I want to do it right – and, if I can, I want to make it right with the girl too.

Funny how she informs my thinking. I reckon moving on might be good for us, but need to get in a position first where we have a connection when I walk out the door. She’s moved on, but we’re in communication daily, and it’s fine. I think she’s in a situation where she’s unwilling to commit, but unable to let go. That’s a situation that will likely be resolved one way or another when I must pick up and leave.

Officially encouraged

In my ongoing search for a new job I met with a recruiter for lunch. This is how I used to do it: form a relationship with a recruiter or two, earn their trust, then reap the benefits of continuous and well paid work. That’s how it used to be, but not so much anymore. The recruitment industry seems more cut-throat than ever before, with a high churn rate and consequently diminished quality and experience across the board. There’s no time to build relationships, and the process in general lends itself to more superficial results – but that’s the way it is.

The opportunity then to meet one on one with a recruiter was encouraging, but I was also sceptical. I remain wary, but the signs are good.

Our lunch was all business. We discussed my background, my experience, my expectations. When I told him how much I was after he said we can do a lot better than that. He then reeled off about half a dozen opportunities, none of which have a salary less than double my current. I’m happy to cop that.

The role I’m most likely to get is also the most challenging in that I would be required to spend 6 weeks in Toronto getting around the business, before returning and taking it up here. I’d have jumped at that before, but am not so keen now – though if it happens I won’t be saying no.

I can’t get ahead of myself. Words trip easily from the lips of recruiters, though he appears legit. He reports back on Friday and we’ll see how we go then. In the meantime I’m officially encouraged.