Week beginning 14 June

Being ready to learn

I didn’t set my goals for the week particularly thoughtfully. But they were still useful enough that at our midweek checkpoint they helped remind me to push forward some important things. In particular, we’re creating a couple of fixed term roles which both reflect the new skillsets we need to support recovery and an opportunity to reduce the costs, by insourcing talent. We also committed to providing senior leaders with a clear way forward for recovery of records from our corporate document management system by the end of the month. It’s not my workstream so I got to reveal other people’s hard work at our regular Silver command meeting on Friday. 

Our PSN saga is closer to its ending but took an unexpected turn as we learnt another layer of detail about how it works. But depending on our partners, we should be able to finish it off next week. It was frustrating to learn something new, at a late stage in a piece of work where we tried to anticipate and remove every hurdle. But there are some things about our circumstances that mean this is inevitable. 

We spent some time preparing more content to help people applying for our new customer services posts: Head of Customer Experience and Head of Customer Operations. I made a video explaining more about the roles, and some team members shared what they wanted from their new boss. Whilst we’re hoping to fill these internally, the content is designed to help encourage applications, support people to make good applications and show the team how important these appointments are.

A bit of flex in my diary meant I had time to help support the Repairs Hub team prepare for the next release. From Monday the software will be used to support repairs conducted by our direct labour organisation (DLO) coinciding with the return to a full service as part of easing COVID restrictions. There are risks involved but most of exist already. The hardest thing in the last fortnight has been wrangling with a piece of software we’ve bought which needed some extra work to conform with security best practice. 

I feel responsible both for the success of Repairs Hub, and the performance of the contact centre which will be most immediately affected if something goes wrong. That uncomfortable balance is probably exactly what they had in mind when joining customer services and digital!

I had a couple of powerful learning points this week. Partly that was a consequence of how meetings fell in the diary. But I’ve observed before that there have been occasions where I’ve thought I must be learning – but that’s different from actually having the space to learn. I got some invaluable feedback from some team members and in a very different context, got to spend some time with our registrars in one of their team quizzes.) I gained a lot from both sessions because I had the space to listen and reflect properly. Occasionally I felt myself about to get too drawn into wallowing in praise or defending myself on a point – but I think / hope I was just about aware enough to pull back. I also benefited from people emphasising something that was obvious (and recognise that I’m typically bad at this) so made sure that when another team did something obviously well this week, I took a moment to point out the obvious. 

Next week

I’ve had just enough space in my diary to make time to think about the career development offer we could design for customer services. So next week I’ll have something ready to share with the team and learn about what we could do which would be most attractive and helpful. It’s really important, so I need to create enough of a self-imposed constraint to make it urgent, too. 

We’ve also got a new phone system coming – and our first 400 users will be using it in a couple of weeks time. The timing is a response to the contract cycle and my sense is that we need to manage the transition well enough but with little fuss and disruption for staff. So I’ve also freed up a bit of time to make sure we’re on top of all the detail and – if my assumption is wrong – that we can respond accordingly. 

But mostly next week my diary is bizarrely empty. I feel quite socially awkward about this so will have to be disciplined to make sure I use the time productively.