Weeknotes S10 Ep8

Three (and a bit) things.

Where to start? Hello it’s Monday.

I didn’t get around to my weeknotes last week and I didn’t get around to them over the weekend either. I think this is a signal that I have a bit too much on.

My migraine persisted into Wednesday, striking with an aura and general confusion right in the middle of something important on Tuesday which also made me miss the launch of Lauren’s Upfront online course in the evening.

Gif: General Confusion courtesy of Hit Girl

So last week was a bit lonely, and a bit introspective, and a bit, well, meh. But it was also dotted with some useful conversations and clarifications about the direction we are headed with May-N, Maddie and Ben.

Still I had a teeny break on Friday without small human which included tasty food and cocktails and was a bit of a rest, plus I’m on holiday from Wednesday which is very needed. I’m looking forward to a bit more sleep and hopefully getting back to some kind of normality.

1. Decision making

When I think back on last week, I’m unsure exactly what I achieved. Both Egle and Matt, my collaboration manager colleagues, were off work, so it was just me on my own. It’s so important that we reach a consensus on decisions together and that we understand what we need to do to achieve our aims. So I felt a little stuck and like I couldn’t move things forward.

Still, I prepared the miro board for a decision making meeting this week so we have everything we need.

We need to understand:

  • What level of intervention our projects need. Based on our current understanding of the scope we need to weigh up the potential of the project, what the teams have asked for, and the value of the funding we have given them and then assigning each to a newly created ‘strata’ of service support options. This is a new way of thinking about the level of support we offer and the activities that take place within that, and it will change as we learn more, but it’s a good start.
Gif: the swotty one from Community says “Intervention! Intervention? Intervention?”
  • How much time we all have. We have a number of ongoing projects plus the 11 new COVID-19 funded projects, so it’s really important that we get better at predicting how much time we will spend on each. Using the above ‘strata’ we can get a ballpark of what we expect, and we can use that to have conversations about effort and value.
Gif: Barak Obama says “It requires some effort”
  • Who will do what. Based on the above, our different projects will get different types of project support that will also require different skills. Previously we’ve looked at our projects in terms of themes, with us each taking a domain area of work; this is good in many ways as it means we each get a deeper understanding of an area, but it also reinforces siloes and different ways of working, rather than knowledge share. It also makes it more difficult for people to move around; do work that stretches them, quite aside from being bad for business continuity.
Gif: bunny has a stretch (for Jenny)
  • What good looks like for each project. Based on our current understanding of each, we have a good idea of what would make that project a success, that might be a particular output or product, or it might be an improvement to a service as a result of the changes. We need to define for each what our objective is as a collaboration manager and ensure that our interactions with the project team support that objective.

We are a small team given our ambition, and have just over 3 FTE (full time equivalents) working as collaboration leads, which means we are limited in what we can achieve, so I hope the above will help us to get better at planning things in.

2. Reasoning

A little while back they Civil Service advertised for a number of Deputy Director roles working on COVID-19 response across government, and it seemed like a good opportunity so I threw my hat into the ring.

Apparently so did around 1600 others, which is interesting.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I put some good time and effort into my application, and several weeks later got an invitation to a numerical an verbal reasoning test.

I hate numerical and verbal reasoning tests.

In fact, lets be honest, I generally hate tests. I think they are exclusionary. I’m happy for anyone to provide me with evidence to the contrary [1]but I know that with my background, and my way of learning, that tests rarely work out well for me. I chose my degree because there were no exams, only written and oral assignments.

Anyway, the thing I find the hardest about them is that I feel like they obscure what the hiring team actually want. For example, I took these tests but there was no real guidance offered about it when I received it.

I’ve since looked it up and found this:

A screenshot from the linked page about numerical and verbal reasoning tests.

In the above screenshot you’ll see that it states:

All Civil Service jobs are advertised at a particular level. If you pass the test at the minimum required standard for that job level, you will receive a message informing you.

The minimum standard for each level isn’t linked to from the above page, so I’ve no way of understanding what the minimum is, and anyway, it also says:

after the test deadline, the recruiter will look at all applicant scores to decide what the job’s pass mark will be.

In fairness it does also say that the recruiter will “consider the impact on protected groups” though how they will know this I’m not sure.

Anyway, on the minimum standard pass marks google didn’t help me, and now the role is closed so I can’t go back and check the job application to see if it was mentioned there. I’ve asked some other colleagues who applied and they don’t recall seeing it either, perhaps because the tests were an added step in the process due to the number of applications received?

Anyway look — I scored 27% on the numerical reasoning — yes I know that’s pants. So maybe I’m coming off as bitter here. That isn’t the intention. I know maths isn’t my strong suit and I didn’t expect to be brilliant at it, but I am good at verbal reasoning (I got 80% for that, which is good… for me… in a test scenario…)

The issue that I’m hoping to raise here is that by obscuring the minimum standard pass mark, how that minimum standard may have changed based on results, and by giving no reference about whether it’s acceptable to be better at one test than the other, I’ve got no frame of reference for how far away I am and what kind of effort I would need to put in to get a pass.

I don’t even know if I could get a pass at all; whether I have the aptitude deemed necessary to pursue my career further; whether there’s a ceiling that I’m never going to be able to make it through.

So while this might have just been me throwing my hat in the ring for a role, it’s ended in a kind of career existential crisis (sorry).

3. One Team Gov Suicide prevention

Only a week until our breakfast takeover and I’m getting twitchy but there are 77 people signed up already and we will do some more plugs this week. Tomorrow’s weekly planning session will define the agenda further, which is great.

There’s been a steady stream of new names signing up using the form and a trickle of enquiries and volunteer sign ups (we’re now up to 43 MHFA volunteers in my list). We’ve also just started making contacts with all of our speakers and some more charities which means we are moving forward on the 10 September event too.

I was really pleased that Gail got us in to the Civil Service Race Forum newsletter this week, and I hope that a more diverse audience see it and sign up, and Jon also pulled together another blog post for us which is excellent and hopefully publishing in the next day or so.

So things are moving, and I’m feeling confident. We will get there.

What else?

Here’s my trello reading list this week: https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

I still havent been able to do more analysis, I think it’s going to have to wait a bit unfortunately.

I also booked onto a Liberating Structures session (finally!) for October, and Lauren’s Upfront training starts today, so I should probably get going.

No weeknotes next week as I’ll be on holiday — sorry!

[1] Genuinely — hit me up 🙂

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