Friday 25 March 2011

The next train at platform 4...

There are two things I'd like to comment on and they'll be brief because I've just worked out the most perfect mountain bike route from my front door and little gets in the way of going and trying it out except explaining something which I think might be important.

I said a while ago that the cuts were wreaking havoc in local government and I was very careful what I said and didn't say out of courtesy for other peoples feelings. Some comments said 'it sounds like no one will be made redundant'. No. Actually, what was happening was that we were in the middle of the competitive interview/matrix selection stage and people were most definitely going to be made redundant at the end of it, but it was none of your damn business right then.

Now it is. People have gone from our team. A mixture of compulsory redundancies, voluntary redundancies and early retirements have left us with considerably less hands on decks. And we are, I think, one of the first Departments internally to have arrived at our new streamlined Department structure and stare it, and its implications, in the face.

It also means no one else understands the stream of random tweets I've been sending for the last two weeks. But some of you will, in time, because as someone tweeted last night - it's about to hit a lot of managers that they're about to lose half their team whilst still having the same amount of work and more importantly expectation of work hanging over their head.

Our small little web team might not have been touched. And as someone yesterday pointed out 'but there's 3 of you!'. Well, yes there are three of us but 4 core websites, two internal and two external across a shared service, untold satellite sites to either maintain or create internally, the world and its dog suddenly realising social media isn't going to go away and wanting help, advice, training and presentations, and the low level churn of a day to day web team in a Council mean those three people are over capacity.

Now we need to be a revenue creating team too. That brings with it a whole new way of thinking, working, new pressures and new priority shifts. And lots more work.

For some of you, this is all to come. And I'm going to be really honest here and tell you that it's hard. It's really really hard. As I said yesterday to the person who realised he's suddenly got half his team to do the same amount of work - welcome to hell, brother.


As more of you come to the platform we're currently sat on, as more of you arrive with a slightly lost and shell shocked look on your face, unsure of where the track is going to next, unsure what lies ahead, unsure if the train will fall off the rails or a bigger hand will simply come along with a crane and forcibly lift if off the tracks, remember this...

It will get better.

There will be someone sat on the bench next to you a little further along in the process who can counsel, advice, and assist.

The coffee shop behind you is open while you wait - life still goes on, coffee still gets drunk, the coffee is no less pleasurable and tasty, don't ruin it by never concentrating on it and instead losing the pleasure in the stress.

You can leave the platform entirely.

You can leave the platform and come back again, fresher, brighter, more positive and more focused.

Stress bites. But if everyone on the platform could be nice to those arriving, share best practice, fears and worries while on the platform and most importantly continue to do so after their particular train has left, we can all get through this and perhaps drag some joy and hope out of the experience as well.

What you have seen in the last few weeks is the result of someone sitting on the platform alone. It was with complete and utter relief that I realised last night that it wont be for much longer. And that's selfish and unkind, and not a very nice thing to think at all. But so help me, I could use a little 'in the same boat'ism right now.

The other thing I'd like to comment on?

I'm a human being. Not just a username on a screen. Please remember that.

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