Week beginning 19 July

A week where we achieved every goal that I set. But we also grappled with a couple of significant things that blew us off course and were generally a bit demoralising. There are two things that I find challenging about these scenarios. As a leader I want to be consistent and proportionate. So when bad things happen I need to work hard to channel how I feel in the right way. And it’s also important not to carry feelings from one meeting into the next. That’s particularly hard when the only thing separating two meetings is the ‘hang up’ and ‘join’ buttons on the screen. 

We had a productive session when Rob’s management team on Tuesday. We spent a healthy amount of time in the park, and everyone else was too grown-up for me to suggest taking the logical next step to Pub on the Park. We made a useful contribution to the thinking about how we can meet the savings challenge (but gosh that’s hard to do well) and thought about how we can set clearer expectations for our teams. Potentially the most powerful thing we did was to make some personal commitments for the next six weeks or so, and found a way that we can hold each other to account for whether or not we succeed.  

A couple of times I sensed a kind of tiredness/grumpiness in a couple of the issues that I dealt with. And we had to deal with some tricky (though not unusual) situations in our service centre. I feel awkward about looking forward to a break, because it’s only 7 weeks since my last one. But I suspect the heat has made the last week harder. 

I used the goals for the week (and my endless lists) as a device to bring myself back on course on Thursday morning. It was a way of checking whether I was finding enough focus on the things that mattered. But I’d also like to think more actively about what things I need to make sure are done really well, as opposed to just finished. I’m having to make lots of trade-offs at the moment and would benefit from having just enough opportunities to retain a clear sense of what ‘excellence’ looks like. 

I learnt most this week in a session with our development team. We were hoping to meet face to face but that didn’t feel responsible given the infection rates and, frankly, how central they all are to the delivery of so many important pieces of work. I facilitated a session to find out their ambitions for the next 18 months and what needed to change for them to achieve them. There were a few themes that I was expecting, but three things I wasn’t. There’s a real desire to play a more dominant role alongside our agency partners, to have a clearer strategy for our approach to front-end development and an ongoing challenge to balance delivery, learning and wellbeing. I’ve got partial answers for some of this but frustratingly I had to leave the session before we’d really finished. So a challenge to return to. 

We’re shifting to fortnightly goal settings from next week. That will help us fit into the rhythms of the teams more neatly and introduce a less frenetic cadence to our work. But it will also place more emphasis on ensuring that we look long as well as short so that we know we’re on the right track. We’ll also need to keep a close eye on blockers so that they are identified and resolved quickly. I’m also expecting to spend a significant amount of time on recruitment over the next few weeks, so it’ll be important to plan my diary appropriately.