Weeknotes S03 Ep08

Long week is long

Overarching feeling of the week

I’ve just looked back in my calendar. Things that happened on Monday feel like a very long time ago.

Perhaps this is some kind of jet lag caused by returning to work full time, who knows?

I’m still struggling a bit with a couple of the themes I outlined in my lessons sections last week.

I’m feeling low on energy. I’ve had two migraines. Actually no. I’m really struggling this week.


I had my End of Year Review on Wednesday and it went really well, it was good to talk through the work I’ve done over the past year and take stock of what it meant.

My previous manager said he would have no hesitation giving me a “top box” marking[1].

I know people have lots of opinions about performance management and the talent grid, and yep, it’s problematic, but you know what? I worked hard last year, and I wanted a top mark. Not because I expect anything to happen (I am informed by numerous people that absolutely nothing will happen) but because I just wanted it. I wanted to do well; better than well.


Another week of significantly people-based highlights…

On Monday I met with Morgan and Prateek to chat through some One Team Gov ideas. That was good because I previously hadn’t really spoken to Prateek and I didn’t know much about his work at GDS either. For the record, it’s really interesting; working in the better use of data team.

There have been some really interesting questions and flurries of activity around One Team Gov global event. It’s been a pleasure to see so much progress being made and a band of good people hard at work.

Nour in particular is really shining- keep it up Nour! DavidBuck and James are working immensely hard behind the scenes. Jenny and Morgan are thinking really hard about things (at a time when both are also crazily busy with new jobs).

There are many more people involved but I can’t list them all. It’s just a really good thing to see.

On Wednesday morning before my EYR [2] I had coffee with Michele from my old team, she bought me a lovely pencil case and gave me a card which brought a tear to my eye. It was good to catch up.

I’ve also been on a bit of a mission meeting new people in GDS. This week I met with:

Gill, who works in the Transformation team doing really important and interesting stuff. Gill has loads of experience and I really want to spend more time with her.

Chris, a user researcher in my team. We chatted about some of the work going on in the team and what the service team are currently working on.

Clara, who works in the service design team and who, it turns out, actually interviewed me for a role at Webcredible years ago. That was a strange coincidence (if slightly awkward, as I didn’t get the job). But she is lovely and friendly, we had a good chat about her career and the work she’s done in her 4 years at GDS. From interaction design through to service design and coaching.

We also had a GDS away-day on Thursday. Afterwards at the pub, I met Noah from Private Office, Amena from the EU Exit team, Tony, a Fast streamer in my team, and Lou Downe who is an absolute inspiration and also a totally friendly, lovely person to boot.

I used Twitter to find people who might want to have coffee with me:

The response was awesome, and I now have a super long list of people to meet in the next few weeks [3].


I’m still trying to get my head round some of the things I mentioned last week:

  1. Inductions matter

A week and a half in someone shared an induction paper with me!

The doc is called an introduction to spend controls. That’s important but it’s only a part of what the team does.

It’s also a Google Doc full of links to other Google Docs — I don’t find that really useful, personally. It feels unenthusiastic, uninspiring (though this isn’t a criticism of whoever produced it, just not how I work).

I need this to be different, and I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one. I owe it to whoever comes after me for it to be better, so I’m working on it.

And then as if by magic today, this excellent thing showed up in my Twitter feed:

2. Availability of people

I still can’t get to grips with this. I know I perform better when I’m working in a team so this is really becoming difficult and something I have to work out soon.

I feel like I’m struggling to get going and I seriously want to do that.

I’m also struggling with lots of communication being over Google Hangouts because people are all over the place. It’s easy to miss whole flurries of messages or to know how or when to interact with it. I’m finding it difficult.

I’m also thinking a lot about participation, showing up, being present. About making opportunities for others to participate, and giving them the tools to understand their impact. About objectives, and packaging things up so others can use them, volunteer and get buy-in.

I’m thinking about my personal impact, what I can achieve and how I present myself. I’m pushing myself but I feel like I’m struggling. I somehow always feel like I’m fighting to be seen and understood. It’s mentally tiring.

This might just be imposter syndrome but they are also things that matter to me. These are just random thoughts that I haven’t been able to order properly yet, but I’m trying.

In other news…

I love this:

And this:

And, finally. A playlist that I made a while back which is all about seagulls. I lived in Cornwall for a while and I know that seagulls are horrible bastards, but I do miss the sound of being by the sea.

This has been helping me through this grey week. Try it:

[1] Talent grid? Top box? What are you talking about Sam?!

[2] Bringing out the acronyms now too? You’ve gone full civil service this week Sam (EYR = End of Year Review)

[3] Do you literally sit around having coffee with people all day? No. But when I did my Weeknotes S02 Retrospective people told me that they wanted to hear about other interesting people. So I’m fulfilling that request by listing them and providing more information about their work. You can always skip that stuff if you want…

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