Caturday Quickie: Honey, I’m home!

Actually, I got home Wednesday afternoon. It’s a six hour drive from London, Ontario back home to Sudbury.

Upon arriving, I immediately got to the unpacking and setting aside of laundry and completely forgot I had an appointment for a massage. It would have been nice after two plus weeks of standing and delivering.

I’ve left a message to reschedule, but haven’t heard back yet . . .

On Thursday, I started by new position. It’s another consultant position, but this should not be as crazy-making as the last one I was offered.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get back on track.

It hasn’t been going so well.

I discovered back in the spring that travelling for the purpose of delivering training no longer serves me well.

I used to be able to write in the evenings and get something done. Now, not so much. And it’s been a challenge also, because I’ve been sharing all sorts of posts and articles about writing process recently. Most of the authors espouse a write anywhere mentality. So I feel guilty for not having written (much) since I left on August 10.

I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to other writers, most of whom have the privilege of writing full time.

That’s not me. I still have a day job.

Also, I’m an introvert. Training all day, while I am good at it, is draining. The group we had to train this time around was lovely. And social. My co-facilitator and myself were invited out once each week. A full day’s training followed by an evening of socializing and then another full day of training is deadly for me.

I probably shouldn’t have accepted every invitation, but I didn’t want to be rude. Plus, this particular group of trainees had all come from away, in two instances leaving family behind until they were settled and established in their jobs. In one case, the trainee’s family remains in Taiwan.

So I went, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself. They’re great people. I just didn’t have the time I needed to recharge by myself.

So all the writing I did while I was away was to revise and submit one short story and to revise my query letter following a webinar (with the fantastic Kristin Nelson—squee!). I’ll share more about that in my next chapter update next weekend.

So now I’ve just about caught up on all of the videos and newsletters and social media I deferred while I was away.

And now I’ll get back to writing.

By the way, London, Ontario is a lovely city. It’s called the forest city and here’s why:

The forest city

The view from my hotel

But I really enjoy being home with Phil (whom I missed enormously) and being able to sleep in my own bed, and getting back to my “normal” life.

Also, it’s nice to be able to help out my mom, who’s had cataract surgery on one eye while I was gone. This week, I get to take her to the second surgery and follow up appointment. It’s more than nice to be able to be here for her.

I’ll get back to regular weekend posting shortly. I have Series discovery and Mel’s movie madness posts in the works. Fun times 🙂

Caturday Quickie

Reprioritizing

This week, I had an epiphany. The tension has been building for some time and, really, it should have happened years ago, but I had to come to this place in my life to be able to wrap my head around it fully.

Now that I’ve come to a decision, though, I feel stupid for not having realized this sooner.

I’m a writer (duh).

What, you say? I thought you figured that one out already. Yes. I had. But it’s one thing to know something and another to become it, to take action to make your dreams reality.

Let me ‘splain.

C’mon, people, by now you should realize that everything’s a story with me 😉

Back when I was still a wounded creative (oh, poor me), even though I’d been published as a poet, and completed my MA in English Literature and Creative Writing, I couldn’t establish a regular writing practice. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn’t find my way there.

I’d been working contract jobs interspersed with employment insurance claims and then I started working for my current employer. At last, I had a job that could pay the bills. The hand-to-mouth existence ceased.

I finally started to sort out my damage, got into therapy, went on antidepressants. I did a few other things to help myself health-wise, and then, thanks to a writing workshop arranged by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, I found my way to the page.

I drafted my first novel, went to more workshops and conferences, read my way though one writing craft book after another, and joined professional associations.

At work, I was successful in an assessment process, and, after a relatively short period of time, another.

I started this blog and began to work on creating a “platform.”

By this time, I was in my late 30’s and I was under the impression that I could do everything. I could be awesome in my day job, my personal life, and in my creative life.

The truth? You can only run on all cylinders all the time for so long before you need a tune up.

I thought that taking the occasional self-funded leave would be enough, but each time I returned to work, exhaustion crept up on me more and more quickly.

I hit forty and travelling for training started to become less enjoyable. I applied for process after process, getting screened out of most of them, and eventually landed an acting consultant position that drove me a little crazy. I got my training certification.

Then the certification program ceased and I wondered what I had spent all that time and effort on.

Our internal college is undergoing a transformation of its own, by the way, and may be losing more than just the training certification program.

Creatively, I started working on other novels and started to get my short fiction published again.

And now, I’m in another acting consultant position.

I’ve just spent a week in Toronto, training. Introvert me was so drained, I had nothing left for the page.

That was when it hit me.

I’m spending my energy on the wrong thing.

Last year, I wrote about how my creative life was feeding me in a far more meaningful way than my work life. Dan Blank, from whom I learned a lot about platform, made particular note of that statement. He saw it was the light that would eventually become a revelation. As usual, I was a little slow on the uptake.

I’d just returned to my substantive position as an advisor with the training unit and my employer was in the midst of a business transformation process. On the heels of that, they engaged in a massive hiring process that required a lot of training for the newly hired employees.

Retirements at the executive level caused another kind of upheaval and only eight months after getting our manager back from an extended leave, we lost her to a management shuffle. Nearly everyone was moving around; nearly everyone was acting in one capacity or another. There was no stability.

We’re still in chaos. I think that’s supposed to be the new normal, but I don’t deal well with that much upheaval.

I had just decided that I would be happy not getting another acting consultant position, because there were geographical restrictions and I was not willing to move. My friends in the pool were being offered indeterminate positions and I was happy for them.

Then this position came up.

I think the same thing has happened at work that happened back when I was finishing my BA.

At that time, I was moving into a good place creatively. I was starting to get published. I thought I needed the validation of an MA, though.

So, I put myself through hell and though I got the damned degree, it’s still one of my biggest regrets.

Now, I think I need the continuing validation of promotions. I don’t. I so don’t.

What I need is to settle in as advisor for the rest of my career, however long that may be. No more special projects that either get abandoned or taken over by other departments. No more assessment processes that have nothing to do with the jobs they result in. No more acting positions in which I fail to the degree that the lessons learned are no longer within my grasp.

More than that, I don’t want to travel anymore. It simply drains me too much. I’m even considering a parallel move into quality monitoring, which would not involve training or travel, though I would be willing to help out with training in my office, if my new manager would be agreeable.

I’m planning on another self-funded leave this year, but after I’ve paid that off, I’m considering part-time work as well. My work/life/creative balance has been off for so long I can’t see how screwed up things have gotten.

This is not to say that I’m going to coast, or dog it, for the rest of my career. I don’t think that would be possible. It’s just not in me to purposefully do a poor, or inadequate, job. I’m a perfectionist, after all.

I just don’t want a day job that depletes me to the point that I can’t do what it is that I’ve been put on this spinning orb to do.

I still have to work for a few years yet to make sure our remaining debts are paid off, but once we’re in a good place, financially, I intend to make an early retirement of it and get on with the business of the rest of my life.

I’m a writer and the day job is a means to that end. I have to keep my priorities straight. I can’t afford to be putting good energy after bad.

I just have to make it through the remainder of my current acting assignment with my sanity intact first.

Wish me luck?

Muse-inks

Putting the team first

Back in November, I co-facilitated a team building course called Putting the Team First. I haven’t blogged about it until now, well, because NaNoWriMo, and Christmas shopping, and other stuffs.

So here’s my first learning and development related post in, like, forever . . .

Let’s get one thing straight

I attended the training for trainers (T4T) version of the course back in December of 2013 and one of the first things we needed to get straight was the name of the course. People were calling it Putting Teams First. The designer (who was also one of the trainers) was very specific on this point.

It’s Putting the Team First, thank you very much.

Why so picky? Because that’s the focus of the course, to improve performance, one team at a time. We put the team first and each class focuses on one team, the entire team, if possible.

The hand off

The T4T was being delivered to train regional advisors and consultants in the material and methodology because our internal college, which is national, was handing off delivery of the course to the regions.

While I had scheduled multiple sessions of the course for each sector in Ontario throughout the year (in my former capacity as training coordinator) this was the first occasion I’d had to deliver the course in the year since I’d received the training.

So, I jumped at the chance.

Theme and methodology

The theme was a nautical one and the one-day course was divided, as usual, into modules. The introduction was Boarding, followed by Packing for the Journey, The Crew, and Under Full Sail.

Boarding dealt with the usual icebreaker activity, establishing trust, and navigation (the agenda) for the course.

Packing involved identifying issues that the team faced and prioritizing them according to what could be addressed by the team (cargo), what was negotiable (dock), and what was out of the team’s control (warehouse).

We also did a fun exercise on prioritizing salvage in the event of a shipwreck. The team had to work together to come to a consensus regarding what the most important items would be. The answers were prioritized by the Coastguard including rationales for each.

The crew moved on to Tuckman’s Model. I’d encountered it before, but it was never given its proper name. For those who don’t know, Tuckman’s is the model of group dynamics that includes four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Some thought was given to where the team thought they were on that continuum, but we didn’t belabour it.

We also delved into team player “types” with an emphasis on the fact that everyone is a mixture of all four identified types, but that one manner of “expression” may be predominant. The four types were contributor, collaborator, communicator, and controller. Participants identified themselves and gave some thought to how tasks might best be allocated based on the strengths of each type.

Finally, in Under Full Sail, we returned to the issues identified by the participants back in the Packing module and the team had to once again work together to create an action plan to address their most challenging issues.

The idea is that the team will have the tools that they need to take action on their plan after leaving the course. We don’t check up on them, however. It’s entirely up to the team to take the information and run with it.

So that’s what a day of team building is like where I work.

What kinds of team building training have you facilitated? Participated in? What did you think?

The Learning Mutt

Heck month and everwinter are almost over

This has been a demanding month for me. I’ve been out of town training for three out of the four weeks in March.

The one week I didn’t travel was technically a week off, but I scheduled it full of appointments that I’d had to put off because of work. It didn’t feel very much like a week off.

Of the four internal postings I’ve applied for in the past several months, I learned that I’ve been screened out of all of them, even the new posting for the consultant position that I actually performed for sixteen months. I’ve requested a couple of “informal discussions” about my exclusion, and I’ve applied for another position that was posted both internally and externally. We’ll see what comes of all that.

Rejection is disheartening, though. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but I do. Like most large organizations, my employer’s hiring process leaves many things to be desired. In some ways, I wish for the days when I didn’t think advancement was possible, when I was content in my position making my own, somewhat subversive, way in the corporate world.

Add to the day-job concerns a writing workshop, a month-long creative promotion on Google plus, and my decision to start curating on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Mellie’s a bit tired. That seems to be the way of things, though. If you want to pursue what makes you passionate about life, you have to make sacrifices.

Fortunately, it looks like I’m going to be staying close to home, work-wise, for the foreseeable. I’ll still be training, monitoring new trainees, and overseeing a customized monitoring plan, but I’ll be working from my home office. I think I’ll be able to recover.

The sun has just set here, and though it’s been snowing and miserable forever (it seems) I have hope that the weather will improve. It’s not uncommon for us to have snow into April or even May, but this winter has been such a consistently snowy one, and freezing cold when it hasn’t been snowing, that it’s difficult to be optimistic.

Usually, we have some form of a break, a green Christmas, January thaw, or the sight of green in March, but this year it’s only been snow and cold. We haven’t had it as bad as some areas, but I think northern Ontario, heck, North America, is probably ready to say goodbye to this everwinter.

This is Writerly Goodness, shaking off the winter blahs.

snow can be pretty

It can be pretty, but I’m ready for it to melt 😉

Tomorrow will be another day.

Constructive Written Feedback: Mission Impossible?

So, I’ve been writing this course for about the past month. All of our feedback training, in house, consists of how to give verbal feedback, in person. In our virtual workplace, where much of our feedback takes place over email or through instant messaging, a new approach was recommended.

The hope is that my course will be seen as suitable for modification and use by other business lines, and for other positions (consultants, team leaders, managers). Yes, my manager has vision 🙂

Special funding was obtained to create and pilot this course, and a second one defining our monitoring process and how it’s changed with the advent of performance management, which two of my colleagues undertook.

Last week, I had the opportunity to stand and deliver.

The target for the course was my colleagues, so facilitating held a special trepidation for me this time around. Plus, my manager was sitting in. No pressure. None at all 😉

The session started out with an introduction by my manager, who also presented me with my long-awaited trainer certification.

You may remember that I achieved my trainer certification last March. The actual, suitable-for-framing certificate was almost a year in the coming. I have it now, though. I’ll take a picture and share once I’ve had the dear thing framed.

I’m a bit of an accomplishment junkie. I frame every certificate of completion, award, or acknowledgement of completion I get. The wall at work is getting a little crowded. Like my C.V. on this site, my certificates are a concrete reminder of what I’ve done.

My manager also advised the team that we had been nominated for a service excellence award for our collective work on the recent new hire training. We’ll see what comes of that.

The course itself was designed in a participant-centered format with lots of activities.

I also tortured them with a pre-course activity, asking them to write four different types of written feedback specific to our positions.

Here’s the outline:

  • What do we already know about feedback (brainstorm)? Is this knowledge applicable to constructive written feedback?
  • Objective and agenda.
  • Administrivia.
  • Icebreaker (two truths and a lie). Rhetoric, a skill we don’t know we use every day. How to tailor our message to our reader.
  • The four kinds of feedback (demonstration).
  • The challenges of giving and receiving feedback (marketplace).
difficulties of feedback

The results of the challenges of giving and receiving feedback activity.

  • How perception affects our feedback.
  • The three principles of constructive written feedback (discovery).
3 principles discovery

The results of the three priciples of constructive written feedback discovery activity.

  • Recurring issues and a five-step strategy to address them.
  • Practice in making our messages clear, concise, and readable (large group, cooperative).
  • Critique of the (anonymous) pre-course assignments and presentation of highlights (small group).
  • Sharing of best practices.
  • Review of objective.
  • Knowledge transfer – participants made a promise to themselves in the form of tasks allowing 28 days of practice to create new habits with respect to constructive written feedback.

The best part of the facilitation was eliciting the fabulous and valuable group discussions we had. My questioning techniques were certainly given a workout.

I had handouts, a PowerPoint presentation, a poster, and a facilitators’ guide, but conspicuously, no participant guide. All of the learning content arose from the class and a several points, participants were asked to capture the information generated from various activities and report back to the class.

My colleagues’ presentation on Monitoring: Beyond the Basics was informative. At our level, we haven’t had much in the way of structure or procedure. Many of us started the job by being thrown into the deep end and learning by doing.

Yes, there is a course intended to introduce us to our job duties, but that is general in nature and geared to our position across business lines and departments. Our new procedures, flow-charts, and reports will give us that much-needed job-specific structure, moving forward.

We might even be delivering the written feedback and monitoring courses to all new and acting advisors in the future, in-person or virtually.

Who knows what will result from this past month’s work? One thing for sure is this: I’ll let you know.

Stay tuned.

This is the learning mutt, signing off for today.

What I learned observing the Business Expertise Advisor Curriculum

In between my wintery road trips and getting stuck in an elevator last week, I was actually in Toronto for work.

Last summer, while I was still an acting consultant, the opportunity to observe and/or facilitate this course arose. The initial plan was that two sessions would be held, one in January and one in February.

I would observe the course in January with an eye to facilitating it in February. Unfortunately, the second session never materialized. It may not be until next year that I’m able to try my facilitation chops out on this course.

It’s a long time to wait in the wacky world of facilitation.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The course is a very demanding one for facilitators.

Class1One of the facilitators, who had actually delivered the course once in the past, said she didn’t want to facilitate the course again. It’s a fairly cerebral course, and a lot of material is packed in to four and a half days.

The course is intended to be an introduction to the basic duties of an advisor and as such, it covers working on a virtual team, change management, interpersonal relationships, providing advice and guidance, teaching adult learners, and workload/time management. Things are pretty tight and there’s not a lot of room to wiggle. It’s difficult to keep on track.

Because the course starts Monday morning, the facilitators and participants must travel in overtime (something management frowns on), and the facilitators can’t get into the room until the first morning of training. I prefer to prepare as much as possible in advance and to keep activities queued up and flowing well. Having an hour or an hour and a half for set up would be demanding. It also means that I’d have to come in earlier and stay later each day to stay on top of activities and exercises.

2. The course is something that every new BEA should attendClass2

And, the sooner the better.

Many of the attendees of this course had been BEAs for years and had had the course on their performance and learning agreements for years as well.

As a result, we had a lot of great discussion about our quality control processes, technology, communications, and training. I don’t know that a class of entirely new BEAs would have been half so dynamic.

We also had a varied group of participants from different business lines. One of the big questions I had when I started out as a BEA was what other BEAs elsewhere in our organization did and how those duties compared to my own.

Even though I knew there was a BEA course, it was being redesigned when I started as a BEA and was only piloted to select groups of participants in the next couple of years.

In the positions I’d held previously, there was training, weeks of it. Plus post-training monitoring. I learned the role of advisor by doing it, which is fine because it works with my learning gestalt, but I’m sure for others it was a bit of a culture shock.

After the BEA level, most of the training is piecemeal and you have to actively pursue those courses if you want to take them. Task or competency-based training is not mandatory once you’re out of production.

3. The BEAs in attendance thought the course had value for them

Class3This was a concern, because, after one of my colleagues attended a pilot of the course years ago, she did not have many positive things to say about it.

The BEA Curriculum is a course where you derive benefit proportional to the time and effort you invest.

It’s also one in which the participant should have clearly defined goals and expectations of the training. When the modules of the course that hold the most value for them come up, participants are more likely to play a more active role in their learning.

I presented a short exercise about performance management. I prefaced it with Cathy Moore’s flowchart: Is training really the answer?

Once the advisor has determined that neither training nor monitoring is the answer, what do they do? They perform a needs analysis to identify learning gaps and see if they can devise a plan, working with management, to bring the employee’s behaviour into line with the employer’s expectations.

I asked them to come up with some scenarios from their own experience, and once we had a few, divided them up by business line to review a tool in the training package and see if it would help them in those performance management situations.

Several of the participants told me they thought both the flowchart and the checklist were great resources.

So while the BEA Curriculum was not an unmitigated success (I forgot one of the groups in a breakout room and they didn’t return until after everyone else had left—bad Mellie!) I think it was a good course and one that I’ll enjoy facilitating in the future. If I can remember all the tips and trick I learned this time around!

Do you have any facilitation stories to share? New courses learned or delivered? Lessons learned in the delivery?

Do share.

The chaos continues

Just a quick note about work.

chaos - wikimedia commons

chaos – wikimedia commons

A scant three weeks after beginning my second acting consultant position, it has ended.

Once again, my acting was based on a series of circumstances. Think of them as dominoes, if you will. One of the dominoes decided not to fall, and so I am once again an advisor on the training team.

It’s been three frenetic weeks of planning next fiscal’s learning for not one, but two different business lines, creating third quarter reports, weekly reports, financial reports, etc.

Frankly, I’m a bit relieved. Though I had made the determination not to take things quite so seriously and not to be such a perfectionist about my work, I just can’t do less than my absolute best. This was why I needed a leave after my year and several months in the position. The way things were going, I’d probably need another leave in the spring after my acting was scheduled to end (March 31, 2014).

My pool has now officially expired, however, and I haven’t seen another posting for consultant that I can apply for. I did apply for a senior project officer, but I haven’t heard anything from that application yet.

As a result of that one domino’s misplacement, the training team is now in a bit of a bind. Due to a significant amount of hiring, my manager has over thirty staff to supervise. And all the training and monitoring to arrange. And several other projects to implement before March 31.

She’s advised me that she’ll be leaning on me heavily, so I’m sure things will be interesting. I’ll let you know what I can in the coming weeks.

Next week, I start mentoring monitors and assisting in the design of several action plans.

The week after, I’m away observing the Advisor Curriculum course so that I’ll be able to train it in the future.

After that, we’ll see how things go.

Work madness

The Ren & Stimpy Show

The Ren & Stimpy Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To really get the effect of the title of this post, allow me to coax you back to the classic Ren & Stimpy episode, Space Madness. If you’ve never seen it before, take a few minutes and watch.  I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’ve had a taste, you have to say “work madness” the way Commander Hoek says “space madness” in the ep. Seriously. You have to say it the same way or this won’t work half as well.

I think the last time I blogged about work was at the beginning of October, when my self-funded leave started. Though a fifteen-month stint as a regional training coordinator (consultant) was, strictly speaking, the reason I needed that leave, I am grateful to my employer that such options are available.

When I feel the spectre of burnout or depression, I know I have the means to fend them off.

My leave was five weeks of heaven spent focusing on the art and craft of my writing. I attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, and participated in my first National Novel Writing Month, which I won 🙂

I returned to work November 19, which was a Tuesday, and before I’d even settled in, learned that I was to start delivering training the following Monday, training that I hadn’t delivered in about two and a half years (!) It was in Sudbury at least, so I wouldn’t have to travel.

I did spend the rest of the week prepping and revising the training material, though, and somewhere in there found the time to complete my travel request for something else coming up (more on that in a few paragraphs).

Say it with me now: work madness.

This was something that had come up in the five weeks I’d been off. Though I’d only heard the rumours before I left on my leave, I knew the powers that be were interested in “stabilizing” one of the processing positions. This meant hiring, and a lot of it.

The November 25th to December 3rd training was the result of hiring from an established internal pool of candidates.

After the training, the last two days of which I completed solo, I had to work some overtime to get the marking done and summary reports prepared. Four and a half hours added onto my seven and a half hour day. It was a loooong day. The rest of that week was devoted to further revisions—a lot of errors emerged during the delivery—and facilitating a conference call as a follow up to a self-study module.

While I was off, I was recruited to participate in a “training for trainers” session in team dynamics. The idea was to develop some regional expertise so that operational teams could assume delivery of the course. As only of a few certified trainers in the province, I was invited.

It’s nice to be needed.

This would be from December 9th to 13th in Toronto (yes, I know a couple of people who may be displeased to learn that I was in Toronto and didn’t tell them, but really, I was so busy, I wouldn’t have had time—still, my apologies).

Then the next sessions of stabilization training in Mississauga and London were to begin December 16th through to Christmas Eve. I was tentatively scheduled for London. These would all be new hires.

This training would require me cancelling some leave that had already been approved, and missing out on my family’s Christmas celebration, which we hold on Christmas Eve. Further, it would require the approval of some hefty overtime so that I could travel home on Christmas Day.

Work madness!

Still, I was prepared to do it. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

While I delivered training and stood on tenterhooks waiting for plans to solidify—they weren’t even finished with the hiring process yet!—another person was given the acting assignment so she could do the training.

Plus, there were so many people being given acting assignments to cover the training and monitoring for the fifty or so new hires coming into the organization, that I might have to resume my consulting duties as regional training coordinator.

This may require some ‘splaining.

My substantive, or permanent position, is with the operational training team for Ontario. We’d been told for years that our positions were “overstaffed.” This meant that as team members retired or moved into other positions, that there would be no back-filling of staff. We’d have to make do with less.

Prior to my joining the team in 2009, there had been fifteen or sixteen trainers. By the time I joined, we were twelve. Then ten. When I accepted the regional training coordinator position, there were eight trainers left. Then two more received assignments and another was affected by business transformation, leaving five.

Shortly after I returned to the team in September, another of our number received an acting assignment elsewhere. Now that I’m departing again, the number of permanent staff on the team is down to four. That’s to serve all of the training needs of staff in our business line in the whole province. Really?

Though being regional training coordinator wore me out, I was nonetheless disappointed when my assignment ended and I returned to the training team, especially when I learned that the reason I’d likely never get a consultant-level position again was geographic rather than merit-based.

Though the consultant pool I’m in has been extended through to December 31, 2013, this may be my only chance at a consultancy again, ever.

On the team that houses the regional training coordinators, there have been changes as well. The manager has received an acting position as a director and the person taking his place is also acting.

Two other team members have received assignments off the team, and now, due to the number of acting trainers and monitors in this stabilization exercise, another of them will become a second acting manager for the training team.

Though they too had been told that no positions would be back-filled, there won’t be anyone left on the team who’s done the regional training coordinator gig who doesn’t already have a full plate.

And so I’m heading back.

Altogether now: WORK MADNESS!

I’m going to adjust my expectations of the position.  I know now the kind of chaos I’m going to be parachuted into the middle of. And the planning process I worked at so dilligently last year? It hasn’t even started yet.

I think I’m going to start every day with the Serenity Prayer.

Are there other projects I’m going to be involved in, work-wise? Yes. I’m going to be observing and potentially delivering the Business Expertise Curriculum (though I never received the training myself—this may be my only opportunity to take it in) in January and (possibly) February.

I may be training the team dynamics workshop too, though there are currently no plans on the table for it. Things shouldn’t be as insane as they were last year, however. I’ve already been certified. I won’t be going back there again.

In other news, the training certification program has departed our internal college for another training provider. So, no next steps for Mellie.  No assessment, no mentoring, and no training. Unless I get some kind of in with that other training provider. I become eligible to apply to them in March. We’ll see how that works out…

So that’s my work madness.

What’s yours?

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?

Training trainers in Toronto

This past week, I was out of town.  The purpose: to teach a bunch of trainers the content of Business Writing Made Easy, so that they, in turn, can teach others.

The class was composed of three trainers from one business line and 6 from the other.  BWME Nov 19-22 001Though I may, as I mentioned last week, be returning to the training team in September, there are several possible alternatives that might prevent this from taking place.  I have to be prepared for the possibility that I won’t be able to help train staff much or at all in the future.

This was my fourth time co-facilitating the course, and I’ll be training it one more time this week coming.

The course is 15 hours, or two days, spread over three.  I added a day onto the end so that the participants could adapt portions of the course, present them, and get some focused feedback from the rest of the class.

The class is very participant-centered, that is, there are a lot of activities and the facilitators are constantly using questioning techniques to engage learners in their own learning.  This last is a challenging bit for me, because I’m a word-nerd and a total grammar-Nazi.  I have to restrain myself from talking about the things that I love.

The course went well.  I was able to help one of my colleagues get some experience co-facilitating the course because she may be turning around and delivering it to her business line in the future.  I also got the trainer’s high that come when you see the participants getting enthusiastic about the subject matter.

I think they’re all going to be brilliant 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, the course involves learning a business letter writing model, tips on clarity, concision, and readability in writing, and a final module on grammar review.  The practical component is a letter that the participants draft as part of their pre-course work and revise as the course progresses.

Actually, looking back, every time I’ve blogged about BWME, it’s been about the process surrounding the course, not the course itself (eeps!).

I learn, or have something confirmed for me every time I teach this course.  I hope that my newly-minted business writing teachers feel the same way.

I still get nervous every time I have to train too, but I hide it well.  I’m introverted (as all get out) and training, though enjoyable, tires me.

I’m reading Susan Cain’s Quiet right now, and will likely post about introversion in the future.  For now, let’s just say that I’m learning a lot about myself 😉

Just yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook by the wonderful Nancy Kress, who said that in preparing for a 4-hour workshop, she was nervous, even after her many years of writing and teaching.

One of the comments that followed mine was that, if you care at all about the subject you are teaching, or presenting about, you will be nervous.  Every time.

I do find this to be true.

Getting back to the course, since it’s only two days, I can’t teach anyone who to write properly or how to use the principles of grammar.  The course is a combination of review and resource-building that we hope will give participants the tools to continue improving on their own.

Practise makes perfect.

bunch of starsThe participants seem to enjoy the word pairs exercise most (affect/effect, practice/practise, principle/principal, further/farther, etc.).  The “snowball” fight is a great energizer, and the subject/verb agreement and punctuation exercises tend to confirm that most participants already know a lot about grammar, it’s just not something they’re aware of in their everyday work.

The key with BWME, as with so many other topics, is to cultivate that awareness, and promote its continuance on the job.

 

Have you had the opportunity to learn or teach something that you’re passionate about? How was the experience?  Do you practise after the fact?  What stayed with you most?