So a couple of months ago an exciting but scary opportunity presented itself to me at work.
I’d been trundling along with the same general activities for quite a while, there are challenges and long term projects running all the time and I thought I was pretty contented.
Earlier this year I got picked to spend 9 months of this year being mentored by someone from the executive team. It was an accident, so I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to achieve with my mentor.
We initially talked about the parts of my work life that I find challenging: the arsehole, getting stuff done, a general desire for promotion and progress, and about what could make the job of everyone in my role easier.
Then by our next meeting, I was starting to form an idea of a project. It’s a big deal. I want to invent a new job role in our company, to bridge the gap between the technical writing teams and the operational R&D team. Then, if we can persuade the powers that be that this role would be beneficial to lots of functions and would add value for our customers, then I want to do that job. So there was some early progress.
My previous update was quite a few months ago. Since then lots has happened.
Between us, my mentor and I put together a nice polished presentation about why the role I described would be good, what value it could bring and why I’d be good at it. We ran in past a contact in HR and I filled in some official forms (but didn’t submit them). Then I gritted my teeth, and pulled together all my courage to message the potential manager at head office who I needed to convince. She agreed to a meeting, first hurdle overcome (well, second if you count me facing my fear and contacting her).
The day of the meeting came and she postponed it at the last minute. The next session arrived and she was 10 minutes late to a 30 minute meeting – this didn’t bode well. After another 10 minutes she suggested moving it again. Finally, on the third attempt she arrived just 5 minutes late. I’d rehearsed and talked over what I wanted to say with my mentor and with my other supportive colleague. I explained all the challenges and pitfalls involved with what we do now, how I thought I could really help and be effective at implementing real improvements. She listened, understood and appreciated my points.
And then the killer. The ratios and staffing levels just don’t work. She has 1 person on her team for every 1500 developers. She can’t justify one more to serve the interests of just 140 technical writers.
In one sentence my hope and plans were dashed – gently and with respect mind you.
There is a “but” though.
But she has two potential openings in her team for general operations work. Not specialised in technical writing needs though. She asked me what my background was outside writing user guides. Suddenly it felt like an interview, thank goodness we were over time as I wasn’t prepared at all!
So the next step is for me to learn more about what operations does, but that meeting’s been postponed twice already.
I am not at all sure I’d want to do operations work and especially not sure about stopping doing any technical writing whatsoever. I’m not closing the door on the idea but I’m very wary and not about jumping at the opportunity just for the sake of change.
The other dimension to it all is my ridiculously super over-supportive manager. I can’t tell if she’s petrified of losing me and over-doing her show of support out of dedication to being a good manager above the needs of the team and her own ability to fulfill the role I currently do…. or whether she wants to get rid of me because I do some leadership stuff and she wants that perceived power.
So right now, it’s been one step forwards, two steps back and then into limbo. Watch this space for the next exciting but scary installment of my professional life.