Three months

During the interview for my job one of the set questions was along the lines of (I can’t recall the precise wording) “What would you hope to achieve in your first three months in the role?” It’s a standard interview question and I didn’t have a very good answer. I stumbled through a reply that included: working through the induction process, not being afraid to seek help when I was stuck, admitting when I was finding things difficult, understanding the role, and aiming to become a useful part of the team. At the end of my response I apologised for not answering the question better.

I’m now (just over) three months into the role and it’s a useful point at which to reflect back on this interview question. Quite honestly, in October and the early part of November I couldn’t imagine still being in this job in January. I honestly thought I wasn’t worthy of the job. I can now look back and reflect on how badly my confidence had been dented by what came before, and the significant impact of this on my transition to the new role.

  1. Working through the induction process – I got through the checklist stuff very quickly, because it was a useful distraction from how terrible I felt at the time. Of course, there’s an the less structured, ad-hoc, unwritten stuff and I would say that I’m working through that because it takes time to understand a large organisation.
  2. Not being afraid to seek help – I used to be the person that people went to for advice. Becoming the newbie again was/is hard after such a long time. I am buddied up with a very experienced, kind colleague who I can message when I’m finding things hard and she regularly contacts me to make sure I’m ok. I’m part of a geographically dispersed team but we use Skype extensively and everyone is at the end of an email or messenger.
  3. Admitting when I was finding things difficult – after (what I perceived to be) a terrible first week/month I decided to be honest with my colleagues about how I was feeling. We have regular Skype sessions where we share information on a theme. As part of a ‘Day in the life’ session in November I delivered a presentation on being a KES (Knowledge and Evidence Specialist) Newbie on which I received good feedback.
  4. Understanding the role – I would say that I understand it *more* now but I’m not there *yet*. I have dealt with several literature searches of varying difficulty including one for a systematic review, I’m in the process of setting up a current awareness bulletin, I’ve provided 1:1 and ongoing support on Endnote, I peer-review publications as part of the in-house publication standard committee, among many other tasks. Lots already done, lots more still to learn.
  5. Becoming a useful part of the team – I would tentatively say yes but you’d have to ask my colleagues what they think.

I was involved in an incident at the beginning of December that, if it had happened month before, would have seen me walk out of the building and not return. Briefly, I was on the receiving end of some unexpectedly unprofessional behaviour. It was one of those moments where you check with the people around you whether the behaviour was acceptable and if my reaction was appropriate and professional. The response was, respectively, no and yes. I subsequently received excellent support from my manager and colleagues. I know from previous experience (a long time ago) that this isn’t necessarily a given*. The fact that I was able to bounce back from it (I went from the bad incident at 10am to a lovely moment at 2pm) shows how far I’ve come in the last couple of months.

My feelings towards my previous role versus my current job have evolved since my last post. I can miss bits of my old job whilst simultaneously enjoying  my new role. I’m particularly missing managing people and collections. I can’t do a lot about the former but it’s no coincidence that I’m playing at lot of Sims Freeplay in the evening**. I’m visiting one of our libraries to help with some stock work next month. As long as I can top up my hardcore librariany goodness from time to time, I’ll be just fine.

I was chatting to a friend recently who said it takes six months to understand a new job, rather than three. I’m hoping to be able to report further progress in April.

*If I’d known what gaslighting was in 2010 it would have applied here *shudder*

** It’s extremely therapeutic controlling other people’s lives WHICH IS NOT THE SAME AS LINE MANAGEMENT. Combined with watching the Press Gang boxset it’s the perfect way to unwind.

4 thoughts on “Three months

  1. I’m glad to read that things are getting better for you Jo, I also started a role at the end of 2018 in a new organisation coming from a workplace I had known so well and for so long I knew most people and could get things done and it is frightening how disempowering it can feel to suddenly just Not Know Stuff. I’m getting there now but it has taken a long time and in some aspects of my role I still feel I have further to go after a few knocks to my confidence last year. I think it is very good of you to share you experiences openly like this because all of us feel this way at some point but no one ever talks about it!!

    • Thank you for such a lovely and insightful comment. You are absolutely right about feeling disempowered when starting a new role. I felt like my world had fallen off its axis. So many people said to me that I needed to give it time and they were absolutely right. You’re also right about people not talking about this stuff. All you hear is the ‘I’ve started a new job’ and [some unspecified time later] ‘This is how well it’s going and now I’m going to tell you about the amazing things I’ve done’ and there’s no sense that it’s ever been difficult for them. I think it’s incredibly misleading and rarely true. I’m glad you hear you’re making progress with your new role 🙂

  2. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded every now and then that it’s difficult for new starters though. When you become a manager again it will help inform how you induct and support new staff 🙂 Probably also character-forming, though that’s rarely pleasant!

    • Thanks Ruth – all true. I’ve certainly learned more about myself in the last few months than I did in the last few years in my old job. Not to mention the skills I’ve developed since October. (Not so sure about being a manager again for a bit; I’ll stick with my Sims for now 😉 )

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