So being laid off earlier this year was devastating. Much more devastating than I wanted to believe. To be honest, I thought I was completely over all of the emotional baggage that comes with such an adventure. That is until I ran into one of the people that I used to manage. Since I was laid off, the slimy little creature who had weaseled her way into being our manager has since converted this person to an FTE role.
I was upset. I am trying to understand why it upset me, but it did. It was nice to have her tell me how much they missed me. Apparently, they have realized how hard it truly was to do the things that I made look incredibly easy. (Duh, that was in the job description – ‘make this happen’. I guess I was really good at that. She went on and on and on about how hard it was to onboard new people and how much they miss my expertise. She said they brought on a few people the beginning of July and here we are 6 weeks later and those folks still aren’t fully productive.
This is one of the processes and procedures I had mastered. When the challenge was tossed my way to ‘solve it’, our onboarding was normally 90 days before someone was fully productive. Rising to the challenge tossed my way by our previous manager, I was able to create a process and a set of checkpoints that would have a new hire fully capable to be productive within their first 5 days on the time. Indoctrinating them into the environment and getting them to full productivity was entirely dependent upon the person, but overall, we reduced the time from 90 days to less than 2 weeks.
When I left, I was asked to make sure the process documentation was updated and in place. It was. What I couldn’t get the juvenile who had been promoted from graphic designer to be my manager to realize is that it isn’t always the steps in the process that matters, as much as it is how you execute those steps. The reason I could do it so quickly and effectively is that I had taken the time to build the relationships with the folks who actually execute the steps that our outside of my control. I did things in a specific order because there is time in back office processing that has to happen. I have a wee bit of knowledge about access management and networking, so I get what is happening and timed the required manual interventions accordingly so that when we were ready to do the next thing on the list, the systems would be ready too.
This morning, I am over the disappointment and any jealousy I might have had has passed. I am truly blessed to be out of that dysfunctional, unprofessional coffee clutch.
One the biggest challenges I have with my resume is traversing up and down the communications stack. When I started, there wasn’t an internet. People were struggling with the closed systems that represented the communications channels in those days.Email? There wasn’t any.
Okay, maybe a little. I was at the university and we were using VAX systems. I remember notes were handwritten – er taken in shorthand, transcribed into an email and forwarded to the appropriate ‘routing list’. We managed these ‘routing lists’ in steno pads in the administration office. We were bleeding edge.
The commands we had to execute to get that email from my desk to the Dean’s office was ridiculous. Today, I send emails that are shorter in length than the mere command was to make the connection in those days.
We had to use these communication tools to stay in contact with the other campuses, but it was truly a challenge.
There was no constant link. To connect, you had to know the commands to open the socket, make the connection, upload the changes and download any updates. Yes, it was as manual as that sounds. I have a notebook, somewhere, that deciphers what each of those connection sounds meant. Man do I not miss that world.
I remember being thrilled when I had mastered the whole mail thing. I really believe it was this ability to digest the technical information, translate it into human-being language, and execute is how I got the job managing the pc labs at the university until I finished my master’s degree. This was unheard of since I was a business major and there was an erroneous expectation that only engineering students could understand the magic that happens beneath the surface.
But I got it. It makes sense to me. I used to spend my Friday nights, manning the lab and teaching the computer scientists how to email their ‘whatever file’ to wherever. Typically, I could barely understand what their files said, but I could sure help them get it shipped to wherever. It always amused me that they could do their work, but had no idea how to use the vax utilities.
Just about the time I had it down to an art and was providing coaching sessions Friday nights and weekends, it was time to move to IMAP (Unix). Half of the recruiters I have spoken to in the past two weeks weren’t even alive when this was happening in my life. May the complexity remain buried for them.
One of the processes I am most proud of defining, developing and delivering during my tenure was the onboarding process. Kudos to my leadership for tossing it my way and allowing me to do it on my own.
Every onboarding activity I did was personalized. Yes, the basics where ‘check-the-box’ simple, but everyone who joined our ranks was an individual and they deserved individual attention.
There are a lot of things that have to be remembered whenever you start something new. Finally, I standardized on converting my checklist to individual notebooks created as the hiring processes proceeded.
This became the new hire’s ‘touch stone’ to be used as a start. This became a shared activity between the new hire and the various team members. Folks who were more adventurous enjoyed doing these activities like a scavenger hunt. Others who were more linear requested more ‘checklists’. That was a lot less fun.
Standardizing the work station provided for each resource went a long ways toward simplifying the time to productivity for each resource we brought in.
Writing the requirements for the ‘work station’ provided really helped set the baseline for the expectations the new hire would be able to perform on the first day.
It is much more difficult to produce a baseline for industry knowledge. Every industry has its own set of facts and history that new hires should be exposed. Pique their curiosity.
We were in the telecommunications industry. We were doing ‘mobile first’ design and delivery, so it really doesn’t hurt understand a little bit about the history of telecommunications. I like to focus on telecommunications in the United States.
I am old. I remember when Ma bell was the only game in town. I remember when it was illegal to own a telephone. My mother was a telephone operator in the 40’s and 50’s. Heck she was downsized by ‘mama bell’ because she chose to follow her husband when they shipped him to Colorado after they shot him with an atomic bomb. But that is a story for another day.
Naively I assumed that the ability to survive and thrive for over 6 years in a turbulent, ‘fast-paced’ information technology organization delivering the tools that facilitated the ‘un-carrier’ revolution.
Maybe that is where I need to start. Instead of formatting a resume as a brochure to get the conversation started, I need to create the ‘roadmap’ that takes the reader through my experiences.
Connect the dots for the reader!
I am hitting it out of the ballpark with my selection of companies. Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year. Oh goody!
All of this is a little heart-breaking, but it tells my story.
At the turn of the century, I was plodding along, designing and developing the foundational core that would become the backbone of telecommunications capabilities. We were designing how all of these disparate things would communicate so we could get to the next ‘hop’ essentially.
I was the geek who could put all of the pieces together. Better yet, I was the geek with an MBA who could do math. I was in hog heaven when Lucent Corporation came knocking on my door. In my last century business model, I had it made. I had achieved a job at one of the most trusted names in telecommunications, to-date.
I remember starting this century thrilled to be alive. I was on my way. I had found long term stability. Fast forward six months. We were just moving into our first house. BAM! mandatory video-conference. In those days to have a video conference required a special room, special equipment, special infrastructure, so there was no ‘taking it from home’ option. Lucent announces they are spinning off the network engineering group into its own company – Avaya. Yop, we were on the roller coaster for a jolly good ride.
My peace was shattered. Within months, all of that joy I had to be doing the kind of work I liked to do, in a place where I felt appreciated evaporated.
So I guess that kind of gives my resume a theme – bookends!
Good news is, I need not worry about the challenges around planning as I was informed yesterday that my last day will be next Friday.
Bad news is, now I MUST find a new job and quickly, if at all possible. My husband has a job, but he doesn’t get paid very well. I have stuck around, longer than I should have because the pay was fair. I am not over-paid by any means, but the commute wasn’t awful and I really did care for the team I had been instrumental in building over the last 6 years. We were finally doing things and I was enjoying my role, for the most part again, but all good things must come to an end.
Callout to anyone who might know of any positions for a Scrum Master in the greater Seattle area – preferably on the east side.
- Build a cohesive cross-functional Agile team and establish a working agreement that the team is passionate about. You know what it means to win as a team or lose as a team.
- Lead all aspects of our Scrum Ceremonies including sizing, stand ups, grooming, retrospectives, demos and other Scrum-related meeting.
- Partner with Product and Program Managers to prioritize roadmap features in our product backlog.
- Drive transparency in to the Scrum team’s capabilities through burn down charts and velocity.
- Identify impediments and blockers and actively work to help the team remove them.
- Use retrospectives to continually iterate and improve team velocity.
- Create clarity where ambiguity exists and help make the team successful by creating well groomed stories.
- Provide an open style of communication to foster the flow of ideas and build alignment with the team and other teams.
- Develop strong relationships with cross-functional members of different MHE departments by collaborating to find creative solutions to technology, product, and organizational challenges
- Champion Agile methodologies throughout the development process.
There are things that have to be in place in order to successfully perform those tasks. You need management participation and buy-in.
Actually, I am rather proud of how far we have come in such a short time. Now if only I could educate.