Beginning a New Job

Terry Whitmell - first day of work

Today is the first day of my new job. As a teacher, this is only my second school board, so it’s been a long time since I was truly walking into a brand-new organization. And it is very different from my first day back in 1983.

  1. You need a lot more “stuff” to begin work in 2021, especially in a pandemic:
    • Email account
    • Internet access
    • Logins to all the various digital tools
    • Computer
    • Headset with microphone
    • Good lighting
    • Make-up to look good in a virtual meeting
  2. You need to get to know a lot more people:
    • In 1983 I only needed to know our office staff, my department head and Principal, a few colleagues in classrooms nearby, and my students. And all of them were in the same building as I, and were easy to get to know. I would never have any way to connect beyond my school, so my world was very small.
    • In 2021 I will need to know almost everyone in the organization, eventually, but all of them are “invisible” to me. I did meet three people in my interview, and have talked to a couple more on the phone, but I have yet to get to know anyone in person. This means that building trust is a more challenging task.
  3. With social media you can easily make “faux pas”!!
    • I was originally to begin work on Friday, so I thought over the weekend I could update my profiles in places like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not a good idea! The organization hadn’t yet determined their communication plan for me, and my premature communication complicated theirs.  Not a good way to begin a new role!
    • I have had two years of freedom in my retirement, having only to be accountable to myself. Now I am returning to a “family”, and will need to be sensitive to the possible responses from all of my colleagues. When I first stepped into Twitter my audience were people who knew and trusted me, and this network has grown. Now there will be people meeting me for the first time, and they have the potential to learn a great deal about me just by “Googling”.
  4. It’s not as simple as “getting the keys”.
    • Information flows digitally through an organization in a clear sequence, with checks and balances at each point. So, having been signed on by HR, there are still many steps that might lead eventually to creation of email and network accounts. And if you don’t have them, you don’t have clearance to view any of the information you need for the role.
    • Computers are configured specifically for the role, and then they have to be transported.  Given the size of my new organization, and the snow day today, this could take some time. I might have to continue to struggle with Sharepoint until I get a new computer; it confused my university and school board accounts, and now there is a third organization.
    • And each person who will eventually be working with me has to receive explicit instructions to share with me. Since the communication of my appointment has yet to happen, they cannot proceed, much as they would love to hand off tasks as soon as possible.
  5. Your identity needs to be more explicitly communicated:
    • Am I Dr., Mrs. or Ms.?
    • Should I add “she/her” as my pronouns, to assist those who might interpret “Terry” as a male name.
    • How do I structure my email signature? What is my name in Zoom or MS Teams or Google Meet? 

So, I stand here in front of my rather empty desk.  I have both phone and virtual meetings scheduled this week, which I know will add to my comfort level and task list. But in the meantime I wait.  In 1983 I would have been thrown into the classroom, and not stopped until the last day of June.  Today’s been very different. Perhaps I should enjoy the calm?

 

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