Day 23: More, More, More!
Posted December 23, 2011on:
Flora Marriott was one of the first people I met from the #connectingHR community and her laid back, positive energy and affirming, engaging actions make her such a pleasure to interact with both online and offline. Flora is also a not-so-secret HR and Learning and Development technical geek and is always happy and willing to share her knowledge, collaborate and help others. She is a star…if you don’t know her already, I wholeheartedly recommend that you find and follow her at @FloraMarriott.
It’s April 2011. I’m in the frenetic city of Manila. I’m standing in front of 50 employees. It’s 5pm and their finish time. Me and two others have been training this group in the web design principles that we are using in the UK. I’m wrapping up.
“That’s all for today folks, you’ve been great. Tomorrow we’ll look at selecting appropriate images for the UK culture….”
Blah blah blah.
All of a sudden, the group of Philippine employees start yelling at me.
“More, more, more!!!”
Cue grins all round from the training team. The employees are really yelling at Sam, not me, and I’m bursting with pride. He’s standing next to me (ok, I’ve changed his name). I met him in May 2010 when he had a bit of a jack the lad reputation and was a data processor. Here he is now, having delivered the bulk of the training sessions. The employees love him. He’s been up to 1am in the morning for four nights now, finishing off the training materials. In front of the employees he is so articulate, passionate, confident, knowledgable. This super group of charming Philippine people clamouring for more training, well, it’s a small incident, but it’s memorable for me as a symbol of the wonderful people that I’ve met and played a part in developing.
My year kind of starts two years ago. On January 19th 2010 the CEO of the company I worked for brought together a multidisciplinary team of 6, shut us together in a room and asked us to come up with a detailed plan for changing our company’s UK production to a completely new product. Websites. And from a standing start, we began in July 2010, and now, as I type, over 40,000 of these products have been produced. Although we were a subsidiary of a much larger company, this project turned us into a start-up in all but name. We had to recruit and train hundreds of people, start things like wikis and employer employees to play an active part in the learning process, and we all had to learn very rapidly about the digital marketing world, and get a global production system up and running. And with any start-up or very rapid change, you see people grow and do things they’d never imagined they’d do. I can think of many people whose careers are now hugely the better for having been a part of this journey. For example, graduates who’ve learnt new skills and who’ve now gone off to work at Amazon, Microsoft, and so on. Altogether, it was enormous fun, very challenging, draining at times, and demanded a great deal of energy. A proper roller coaster. But a privilege to be a part of.
I’ve left that company now – most of the support functions have been disbanded as part of a wider restructure in the parent company. I’ll be looking for a new desk in the new year. But I have so many positive emotions about my last year – above all, the amazing people I’ve met, and having been lucky enough to work for a fabulous manager who gave me an environment in which I could do my stuff and perform. I’ve come away with some friends for life, more skills than I went in with, and the knowledge that the work I did was useful. What more can a person ask for?!
My low? Oddly enough, it is right before that journey to the Philippines. I was working crazy hard, stupid hours, living away from home during the week, juggling a lot of projects, and we’d had a few months of operational problems. (Imagine, an HR team of 3 of which I was one, that is simultaneously having to manage lots of downsizing AND a bring in a whole new workforce. A ratio of 3 HR folks, to at one point, about 700 employees). A good friend phoned, the night before I was due to fly out, and I said I couldn’t meet up as I was too busy. My friend was unimpressed at hearing my stressy voice, and told me how I’d got work right out of perspective in my life. When I left the company, he said, there would come a time when no one would remember what I had done there. Later on, I realised he was right. But keeping life in balance all of the time is hard. There always are times when we devote a disproportionate amount of energy to one aspect at the expense of another. I think the important thing is to rectify it and not be lopsided all of the time.
So I did….I took some time out this summer. And that provided me with my second high point (Alison, am I allowed 2 high points?!!). It was exactly a year on from my husband having a heart attack, and he was able to hike up a mountain pass, and achieve things he’d never dreamt possible a year ago. I wrote about it here. So now, when I go to work, I give it my all and I do try to be remarkable (a la Neil Morrison’s wise words), but now I never forget how it is people – dear family and cherished friends and the wonderful people I meet through my work – people, who truly enrich my life.