Weeknotes S03 Ep07


Overarching feeling of the week

This is my first weeknote in my new role in the Standards Assurance Team at GDS!

The week has been interesting. Starting a new role is basically one whole week of lessons, so that section is slightly bloated this week, but I’ve tried to be brief.

I’m trying to remember that I’m only a couple of days in, and in reality…

I have no idea what I’m doing

…but I do know a certain amount, and I am intuitive. It is my natural instinct to poke at things that I feel strange or I think should change. To disrupt things without having the full picture yet. I am having words with myself about this.


Not really a week for achievements but a week for sitting back and listening and doing a lot of thinking. Move along people, nothing to see here…


Starting the new job: A pretty big highlight of the week. A shorter bus ride, posh coffee, friendly faces. Good times.

Coffees, chats and general “getting to know you” things: On Wednesday I met Simon for a coffee and a chat which was good because he is great and helpful, and brilliant at what he does. It really helped me to understand a bit more about the team.

On Friday I also headed out to lunch with a few other people in my team: Simon (again) and James, Hattie and Warren. We had pizza. I chanced potential social suicide by ordering ham and pineapple. Nobody called it out. It tasted good.

Doing more of things that I enjoy: On Friday I attended a Lead Assessors Q&A. I’ll soon be leading some assessment panels here at GDS.

I’ve done a number of internal assessments at the Cabinet Office but I’m looking forward to doing more outward-facing assessments and learning more about what’s going on across government. That’s exciting and important.

Day job stuff: On Thursday I shadowed Adele (which is good because Adele is brilliant). We spent the day at the MOJ and I started to get to grips with some of their work.

This also led to meeting Atique and Zuz for lunch, a win.

End of Year Reviews: I usually hate prep for these but being between jobs gave me a bit of perspective and spurred me to put the effort in.

That wasn’t a real highlight but it got me thinking about my objectives for next year, so I took to Twitter to see if anyone had created any based on One Team Gov principles. David and Nour got in touch and we had a call about how we could build a template/blog which would help people to create their own OTG objectives #microaction

Drinks! Thursday was International Women’s day and also happily coincided with drinks I had planned with Morgan and Jenny

It was really good to talk about our new roles, how we are getting on, and also just to get to know each other a bit better as people. I feel really lucky because they are both open, empathetic and generous, as well as being extraordinarily clever and driven — two very good women to spend #IWD18 with.


I’ve learned a lot this week about things that are important to me and where my own strengths and weaknesses are.

This week’s subhead directly relates to this because I find that when I just start a new job it’s a crazy time of picking up on things that seem strange[1].

And obviously, because I’ve been in the role for only a week it would be disingenuous to think that some of these things weren’t already on the radar or being looked into, these are just my reflections about what I can do.

1. Inductions matter

This is not a moan but an observation. I didn’t really have an induction from my team.

There could be any number of reasons for this, and I’m certain that none are malicious. It could be down to: being busy, assuming knowledge (because I know the team fairly well already), or it might just be down to not knowing what it’s helpful to know as a new starter.

Either way, I personally believe inductions are hugely important. Philippa wrote a great piece about that, so I won’t repeat it, but it’s well worth a read:

View at Medium.com

Key for me is that inductions show a new starter that there is care in the team, it sets a tone for psychological safety — that’s important to me.

And I do believe that some things are within my gift to change. So I’m going to start an induction template and fill out the gaps in my knowledge. Then, when someone new starts we have a potential model for reuse #winnerwinner

2. Availability of people.

I appear to have joined a team who are never actually around!

The nature of this role is that each person works with a different department; that means my peers are often out at meetings, there is travel around the country, and when they aren’t travelling they might choose to work from home.

I’m really glad that the team have the space and autonomy to manage their own time, but it’s a difficult start being in the office when most of your team aren’t there to give you direction.

When Nimalan joined the training team I was acutely aware of his full-time working pattern versus the part-time patterns of myself and Michele. So I set 2 weeks of activity for him to make sure he knew what he would be doing and where he needed to be — especially when we wouldn’t be available.

I also used that to make sure he got to observe a breadth of activity within the team. I do believe that having (even a loose) structure to those first weeks really helped set him up to succeed.

In terms of what I can do about this, I’m going to do my best to remain present and available and to look for opportunities to bring people together. I already have plans to hatch another culture club…

3. Responsibility

I’ve had a couple of conversations this week about responsibility, this relates to psychological safety in some ways, but I haven’t worked out how to talk about this just yet.

In other news…

Not a huge amount to add this week because I’ve been quite preoccupied, but I have been incredibly jealous of everyone who attended SD in Government and I totally intend to go next year.

There are lots of good presentations with slides available and highly recommend those from @jukesie and Janet Hughes which have been well shared elsewhere so I’m not linking here (unless there is demand?)

Kate Towsey shared a great set of resources for User Researchers:

This is also a great blog about policy by Warren Fauvel

View at Medium.com

What I’ve I’ve been listening to…

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