All’s quiet on the work front

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the day job.  The reason: I’m burnt.

Crispy critters.  Toasty-oats.  Done like the proverbial dinner.

I’ve been burned out since April or thereabouts.  It was about the same time that two things occurred to me:

  1. Regardless how well I plan and how hard I work, someone will inevitably ask me to throw everything out the window and do something completely different.
  2. Regardless how well I do, I will never be a regional consultant on a permanent basis.

I was just coming down off the high of achieving my training certification and eager to begin the next phase of my development as a certified trainer.  First, I’d have to assess a few other candidates, and then I could begin to coach.

In the next breath, I was told that the certification program was on hold.  Our internal college was in transition and it was unknown when the program would resume.  To date, I have heard nothing.

Though my performance and learning agreement (PLA) was fairly glowing, I knew I would not remain with the team.

I knew this to begin with.  My assignment was part of a deal and was never intended to be permanent.  It was difficult to hang onto this reality when everyone on my old team was telling me that I wouldn’t be returning.  My star was ascending.

Everyone on my new team was eager to keep me.  To his credit, my  new manager never so much as implied there was a possibility.  Fair enough.

I applied for two other positions, both of which I was screened out of because I lacked the requisite experience.  The only way to gain said experience?  At-level assignments, staffed through unofficial expressions of interest.

By the time summer arrived, I didn’t really want to remain a consultant, at least not in the position of regional training coordinator.  The landscape of the program I administered was ever-changing, and, as I mentioned above, all my hard work was largely disregarded.

Then I had to work even harder, and those efforts, too, ended up going to waste.

I began to hope that I would return to my substantive position, despite the reduction in salary.

Unexpectedly, the consultant pool I was in was extended to the end of August, incidentally the end of my acting assignment.  A couple of consultants had retired, and I felt that I might obtain one of those positions.

Until I learned that regionally, consultants were being centralized.  Now, if I wanted to be a consultant, I’d have to move, disrupting Phil and his job, and leaving both of our mothers (still independent, but aging) without a significant part of their support systems.

I’d already made it clear when I made the pool that I would not be moving.

So now, due to geography (ridiculous because most of our work is virtual) I am out of the running, even though my pool has been extended again, to the end of September.  It’s sad, because I have skills that are in demand.

Despite fishing my wish and getting back on the training team, it’s not the same.  I can’t help but feel that it’s a kind of failure.  I know that this is not the case, but my feelings are what they are.  I also feel bitter.

There was a time when I thought I would never be able to rise very far in the ranks.  Though my office is a hub, there weren’t very many opportunities for advancement.

That changed and I moved up two pay grades in as many years.  Now I feel that again, I’m “stuck.”

Don’t get me wrong, the training team is great and our manager is awesome.  The phrase “force of nature” comes to mind when I think of her.  I used to be so happy.  I thought I’d found my work “home” and was content to stay there.

It’s hard to go back when you’ve had your world expanded, though.

I’m just totally burnt out.  Most days I wake up asking myself if I can, in fact, go to work.  I’m so disappointed when I can’t find a reason to stay home.

So I’m going to be taking some time away from work starting October 15.  I’m hoping that the time off will allow me to address some of the negative feelings I have and return to work in a positive and productive frame of mind.

Priorities.  While I have debt, I need to keep them straight.

Does your day job get you down?  Do you have any options that can help you to recapture your love for your job?

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Business Writing Made Easy in techno-colour

I mentioned back in the spring when I took the training-for-trainers version of the course that I would eventually be delivering Business Writing Made Easy.

The idea was that the two of us advisors from the training team would teach the course to a combination of processing staff, team leaders, and other advisors and consultants, to build capacity, so that the advisors and consultants could then turn around and help us train the entire business line.  It was to be a kind of domino effect, wherein the burden of the training would not fall to any individual or small group of specialists.

Then I was fortunate enough to get this acting gig as training coordinator, which left one advisor on the training team to do the job.  At that time, I was given dispensation to assist in the training.  There would be three sessions offered to staff in all sectors.  The training plan was developed and received approval.

Then Business Transformation (BT) kicked in and not only threw our organization into chaos, but also created new training demands and pressures.  Two of the three sessions would be cancelled.

The organization’s College which had designed and delivered the training-for-trainers for the course transformed in its own way, outsourcing its training and adopting a greater emphasis on e-learning (which I laud, btw—it was just inconvenient in this particular instance).

Part of my personal goal in delivering this training was to achieve my training certification in the process.  While the College would still administer the certification program, its delivery would be in the hands of a partner school and its trainers.  I’m still not sure how this will work out in the “real” world and what it will mean for me as a certified trainer.

Then my fellow advisor, potentially “affected” by BT, took an opportunity of her own and also left the training team.  Plans were amended.  I and two other consultants from another business line would deliver the training across both business lines.

Prep commenced, and as all of us worked in locations 4 to 8 hours’ travel apart, most of it was conducted at a distance.  2-hour conference calls, time stolen from our in-person meeting, and other opportunities were taken.

Then (yes then) my mentor accepted a position that meant that she would be less available to me for coaching.

As the time of delivery neared, I made contact with my mentor in the certification program and she arranged for someone from the college to come in and “observe” me during the training.  The point of this was to assess whether I could be ready to make my first attempt at certification with my next delivery (in February).

Nerves set in.

See, I took the first step toward certification in September 2011.  Incumbent upon me were the tasks of completing post-course assignments, 30 hours of training in a participant-centred training (PCT) style, coaching sessions, co-facilitation of the introductory PCT course, eventually leading to an in-person assessment and the hoped-for certification.

Subsequently, the training that I was to complete in Q3 and Q4 last year was cancelled.  My first opportunity to conduct any training was in May 2012, just prior to my accepting my acting position.  Though I’ve tried to implement PCT in my training, I hadn’t had the opportunity to really exercise my abilities in PCT.

Also, the restructuring of our College meant that the introductory PCT course would not be trained in-house anymore.

So I headed down Monday and had a day to help my co-facilitator set up the room.  I reviewed my sections of the training and met with the observer to schedule her visit and time for our debrief afterward.

Day one went well.  We were actually able to let the class out a little early.  Once again, I took my trainers’ guide back to the hotel to review.

I showed up early, organized our materials, our observer arrived, and we began.

At morning break, which was also about a half hour early, the observer came forward with some tips.  I felt my hopes of certification before the end of fiscal slipping out of reach.  After the break, however, my co-facilitator and I rallied.  We immediately implemented the observer’s suggestions, and even after she departed at lunch, we continued on our streak of epic win, ending the day on time and on a fairly high note.

The debrief was thankfully less painful than I expected, and a plan was settled on.  I still had a lot of work ahead and if my current mentor wouldn’t be able to continue coaching me, then our observer offered to help me out.  An opportunity to deliver the introductory course would be coming up in January.  The planned February delivery of Business Writing would be a chance for me to further hone my skills in delivering the course, and another opportunity to deliver the course to the other business line was identified.  That would be in March, and my opportunity to certify.

My co-facilitator is a people-oriented person.  Though she wasn’t in the program or seeking certification, our observer had as many tips, tricks, and kudos for my co-facilitator and she did for me.  It was pointed out, however, that my preference for facts meant that the kind of interaction that came naturally for my co-facilitator, was difficult for me to muster and maintain.  I hadn’t thought about that.  I enjoy training, but I do find it tiring.  It was an important personal realization for me.

Admittedly, the final day of training posed a few problems for us, but my co-facilitator and I, buoyed by our encouraging review, went with the flow and adapted on the fly.  Ultimately, the participants were what made the course so much fun.  We had a bunch of stars in the class.

In the end, the training was a success.  Our observer happened to be in the bathroom following the class’s dismissal, and heard some positive, off-the-cuff reactions to the course.  It’s interesting where you receive some forms of validation 🙂

The Learning Mutt is still in recovery mode.

Back into the fray on Monday!  Have a great weekend, everyone.

An idea that didn’t go anywhere …

"Here Lies a Good Idea. Don't Let Your Id...

“Here Lies a Good Idea. Don’t Let Your Idea Die. Put it in the Suggestion Box Today” – NARA – 514482 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So last year I had this idea for a way to evolve training for both our clients and our staff.

Essentially, the idea was to have online, self-study, or asynchronous, courses for our client groups, to teach them about our business, what we could do for them, and how to make the most of our service offerings.

A secondary tier, or phase, of the training would have introduced clients to the way we do our work, a kind of insider’s guide, which I termed a certification program.  Taking some of these more advanced courses could have been an asset for our hiring group, so that when jobs were posted, the links to these courses could be included, and completing them could give applicants an advantage, because they would have some knowledge of our business and the work that we do.

Internally, our training products could be converted to online, self-study materials as well, designed to harmonize with the public ones, and in conjunction with informal learning strategies like coaching and mentoring, replace the costly and time-consuming, in-class training we now provide.

I contacted a colleague to get her opinion, and she graciously offered to give me a venue to discuss the concept and get some feedback.  I had never written a proposal in our business before, nor did I know how to go about gaining approval for my idea.

While the session was great and I got some serious validation for the idea, I didn’t get much with respect to next steps.  There was a plan in the works for a kind of online suggestion box for employee ideas, but that wouldn’t be up and running until sometime in the next fiscal year.  Aside from that, I really didn’t have any kind of internal platform to promote the idea, gain support, and move forward with it.

I did follow up with some key management figures from other departments, and tried to escalate the idea through my own management team, but didn’t get much response with respect to who I could approach next, or support with respect to how I could present the idea.

I had to be set it aside for the time being.

Though the suggestion box was eventually launched in September of 2011, and I submitted my idea in early October, I haven’t heard anything since.

Maybe my employer isn’t ready to enact my idea yet.

Still, I think it was pretty good, and even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I consider it to be one of my accomplishments.

Have you had an idea that you weren’t sure how to promote or what to do with?  Who did you approach and where did it go from there?