"Are you nervous, Daddy?" That was the question I got asked over breakfast this morning by my nine year old daughter, as her brothers and sister loudly chomped their way through bowls of weetabix and plates of toast. "I remember when I started at my new school I was really scared, are you scared?"
She asked this today, as 10 June is the day I begin my new job with The Stationery Office after eight years in local government, and another eight in the voluntary and community sector before that. Over all that time I've always worked in some way, shape or form in the world of community engagement, be that with young people specifically or with the wider public more generally, so this new role is a bit of a carer change. Not one totally out of left field, but not one where the only difference between it and my last role is where the kitchen is and which report template to use.
Starting anything new can feel daunting as it is a step into the unknown. Today will entail me meeting dozens of people who's names I'll struggle to remember at first go, reading reams of paper without always understanding what's relevant or how it all fits together, and getting set up on ICT systems great and small. It'll be tiring.
It'll also be fascinating. Besides a few years very early on in my working life when I worked for Army 'n' Navy, I've never spent any time in a modern workplace in the private sector. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-private sector at all (some of my best friends work in the for-profit world) but it means I've got little direct experience of the small differences which will set it all apart from the world I've been used to since leaving school. Those who have experienced both sides of the fence tell me that I'll find some things far easier to do, whilst other little things will seem a little strange. Strange I can handle, as long as there's a semblance of logic underpinning it.
Wish me luck!
Wow. What a culture shock. After arriving I was welcomed by my new manager and shown to where I could sit today – we sort-of-hotdesk, though many people sit in the same places each day. I was then handed my equipment; a nice shiny laptop and a blackberry, which both worked out of the box (though tracking down my PIN number for my phone took a bit of working out).
After that I was handed some documents to read which would get me up to speed on my key projects as well as spending some time being introduced to some work colleagues before sitting down with my manager to get to know each other a bit better.
Actually, when I say culture shock, I mean to say a total lack of a culture shock.
So far everything has been great; yes, it’s very early days, but there have been no surprises, no unexpected challenges and nothing which screams out I’ve made a mistake or that things aren’t as they were advertised. I’ve a nice big pile of reading already and a growing list of names I’d like to sit down with and pick their brains, but so far nothing at all out of the ordinary in a bad way.
One thing I am liking the sound of however is the degree of autonomy discussed. I’ll be able to have direct contact with everyone I need to, and will be expected to manage all of my accounts and projects the way I see fit. Yes, of course it will need to be to acceptable standards and I’ll need to report to various boards and groups with progress, but I should have far more freedom to make decisions myself. In no way am I even implying criticism of anyone I’ve worked with in the past, but local government is filled with processes, structures and sign-off routes, so being able to simply make a decision and make it happen will be an interesting change of pace.
So far, so good…