I have had a rather varied career background but one that essentially is linked by dealing directly with people – customers, clients, members. From club manager (see the photo above of me and baby Lulu doing the guest list at Fabric’s birthday), to solicitor, to judge, to industrial officer at a trade union. I have been really lucky that in the majority of my jobs I have always got on extremely well with all my bosses and found them to be very supportive. I have learnt really useful things from them all that help me daily deal with work. And with life in general to be honest. Here is a little summary of them;
Never be afraid of the phone – When I was training to be a solicitor this is what my trainer told me on my first day so I can’t be the only one who sometimes feels anxious about it can I? Am I really the only one that occasionally just dreads answering the phone? Arghhhh what if it’s someone with a question that I can’t answer? What if it’s that person I already spoke with and they don’t like the advice I gave? But in reality you can’t let the ‘unknown’ dominate your day, the stress is exhausting. And my trainer was right, in my job it was impossible to avoid the phone. It used to ring constantly. I used to spend at least four hours a day on the phone, to clients, to the courts, to barristers, to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the police. Having some really difficult conversations, making proper grown up decisions, giving people news that they weren’t always happy with but that was the career I chose, and I bloody loved it. So I swallowed my fear and eventually I didn’t even contemplate who was on the other end of the phone when it rang, I just picked it up and got on with it. Trust me, once you conquer your fear life is much easier to deal with, you are in control and if you don’t know the answer? Tell them you’ll call them back!
There are no stupid questions – The theory being it is better to ask the same question a hundred time then guess and get it wrong, this specifically relates to advise giving to clients and members. After all who wants to be sued!! Both my trainer when I was a solicitor and my current boss have told me this, it opens up a dialogue that makes life much easier, you don’t find yourself fretting endlessly about not knowing the answer to a query but being afraid to look stupid in front of your colleagues by asking what you assume to be a ridiculous question, you can feel the heat rising in your face….sound familiar?? Well, I ask as many questions as many times as I want without fear, after all no one is born knowing everything, and once I’ve found out the answer, if it’s something I’m frequently asked I write it down and keep crib notes so the answer is always at hand. When you are providing advice to people there will always be new things to learn, the law changes, case law changes, contracts change, its just the way it is. And if asking for help is just too much then my industry may not be the one for you.
Just start – I have attended numerous courses on ‘smart working’ during my career, usually as part of an enforced professional course! There are so many opinion out there. Do the hardest job first thing in the day, get it out of the way and reward yourself with a muffin (?), or Get the smaller jobs out of the way and spend the rest of the day connecting on the big task, put your email Out of Office on and turn your phone to Voicemail (I’ve never had job where you could be ‘off line’ in that way). Or Write a To Do list first thing everyday, or Write a To Do list before you go home each night so you can use it the next day. All the conflicting information you could ever hope to get. Another one of my bosses once told me, during a particularly ‘bunny in headlights’ moment with files piling up, phone ringing non stop, that eh only way to start was ‘to start’.And for me , he was right, I can spend half my time trying to write lists, sub lists, timetables etc and they work for some people but not for me. I don’t go in completely blind, I always have some idea of my workload and what is most important to do, but for me I just have to ‘do it’ or it will never get done.