Baby steps and flying leaps

My new job is testing all of my new coping and social skills. I’ve been taking baby steps for a while now to get socially involved in my world. My job is requiring flying leaps in to the unknown and setting off all kinds of triggers.

When I get anxious, I don’t like talking to ANYONE. My new job has required me to meet someone new every day, and to assist with students on the phone, both incoming and outgoing calls. The outgoing calls I feel more in control, I have all the info and I lead the conversation. When they call me, I have to listen so carefully and figure out what they need, and often what they ask for is not actually what they need, and then figure out how to help or find someone who can help. I jump every time that phone rings.

I’ve been asked to train employees in our overseas call center. I have never trained someone who grew up in the Phillipines before, from my dining room. It was really frustrating at first but once we worked out the tech issues it went well enough. Here is her typical reply to me

Yes, maam, please, yes maam copy that, yes maam thank so much please

Very polite but difficult to tell if she actually understand what I am saying until I ask her to show me.

Then I am quickly/barely trained on handling financial issues and processing loan docs and given a world of responsibility overnight. My inbox filled up with tasks that I had no idea how to do.

Then I am assigned new Bachelor program students to welcome and gather transcripts for analysis. One student attended school in Hong Kong over 30 years ago and needs to take TOEFL and CFGNS international accreditation.

They keep saying there is no training, I must learn by doing. I never thought I’d say this, but I met my max for new learning this week. My head was full, and the only way to make room was to cry.

I cried through each lunch break, and then got back at it.

I think I made a mistake by telling my boss that I was feeling overwhelmed, but felt like I should be honest. He seemed so disappointed in me, but he also made me feel better by saying “don’t stress so much, no one here expects you to know every answer, but we expect you to ask questions and figure it out, which you’re doing. Just do your best, no one here is perfect”

I felt so foolish, but so relieved too. My old job I knew everything. Everyone came to me for answers, it is so humbling and scary to have the least amount of knowledge.

I survived the week, and feel ready to try again. I faltered, but I never crumbled. I had so many emotional triggers, of feeling alone, unsupported, helpless, stupid, confused – but a little crying released the power over me. I am not obsessing about any of it for longer than an hour. I’m getting delayed, but not getting stuck.

I will try not to read too much into anything and just do the job and see what happens. So what if I need a Kleenex box next to me? If tears are required for growth, then I’m ok with that.

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9 thoughts on “Baby steps and flying leaps

  1. be gentle with yourself. ANy new job is disorienting. It has been my experience that with any new job I have taken, I need to give myself ~ 6 months to really get a feel for how I like it. early on it always seems overwhelming and I want to quit.

  2. Agree with kimberly …it seems it takes at least four to six months in ANY new job to know whether it feels like a good fit. Also, don’t under-estimate the power of asking your colleagues for help. When you were the one that was the expert in your field, it always felt good when someone came to you for answers. Allow your colleagues to be the ones that offer their expertise on those subjects you’re still exploring. Each of them carries a piece of the puzzle, and it’s your challenge to bring all the pieces together and make your own path, and while doing so, you will become the one person that knows how to hold all the pieces together. Gathering info is something you already know how to do, so don’t forget to allow some part of the process to be fun. You’re building a knowledge base that no one else has, and a few months down the road, they’ll be asking you for answers. 🙂

    • This is a fairly new company with some ugly growing pains. I have put myself in a position where my job will always be new as I learn something and then hand it off to a new hire. I enjoy parts of it, but last week the pace was just too much. I think I can slow it down a little. But I’m so happy I didn’t give up, even when it got super uncomfortable.

      I love your last line, that makes me feel good, that one day I will be the one with the answers again – much more comfortable in that role. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. I’m about to be in that place at work again too. Learning new tasks is always challenging and not knowing answers can be so frustrating. Give yourself some time to settle into the new info, you will know the answers to the questions you are asked soon. Xox.

    Most bosses expect a learning curve. Give yourself a small break xoxoxo

  4. One step at a time. Don’t hold so much over your own head and such high expectations of yourself. Everyone goes through this with new jobs and this is especially true where there is no ‘training’ available, just think you are the first so you will be creating the training for the next person.

    Here is what you could do that might make it easier. Keep a journal handy and jot notes to yourself throughout the day. Note any patterns, gather questions and then sit with your boss at the end of each day. In the journal, also note your small wins!

    As to the communications issue. You are right, it is hard to figure out. I work with people from India, Philippines, China and even Europe frequently. The communications standards are different, cultural barriers often exist and then you add phone versus face-to-face, always challenging. One of the best ways to overcome? Ask if they understood, ask them to repeat back, become an active listener.

    You are doing great, don’t be so hard on yourself. ❤

    • Thank you for the tips, great ideas!

      I am expected to create the training for what I learn for the next ones, and learn-pass off at a quick rate. As soon as I feel comfortable with a new task, I create a training doc or video and then give it to someone else. This keeps me from getting bored, but I didn’t realize it would add up to me always learning and never feeling comfortable.

      I’m the only one complaining about my performance, so I should be a better boss to myself and ease up on the harsh criticism while I am learning.

      • Yes, you should. All of us tend to be are worst critic and thus our worst enemy. Train yourself not to do it, every day get out of bed and tell yourself you are not going to undermine your own best efforts by second guessing.

        Start some positive reinforcements.

  5. Perfectionism can be helpful when perfection is demanded (medical field for example), but it’s difficult when doing something new and the perfection is in your head. What I learned this past weekend is that asking for a help is a great way to become acquainted with others. You give them an instant opportunity to feel useful. You are doing great!

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