Ramblings of a new Slacker — Isn’t it Gas?

Isn’t it gas how, regardless of knowing that you are going to face challenges shifting from the position of veteran to newbie, no amount of anticipating and vocalising what that might look, and feel, like in advance can save you from wondering you are doing in those first few weeks at a new company. Even doubting all the reasons you believed you were made for this role. And by “gas” I mean terrifying. Add the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in today to the normal ‘new-starter to-do’ list (), and it’s probably in some professional female recipe book for “5 minute imposter syndrome”. It’s a straightforward recipe actually and takes almost no baking. Ingredients:

  • General, basic new starter important stuff (often sufficient to trigger a healthy dose of anxiety alone)
  • Remote on-boarding — even where @LouiseHolmes has done an awesome job in delivering key content, driving participant engagement, and balancing home-life chaos
  • Children are everywhere and there is nowhere to hide
  • I’ve never used a MAC before — why won’t the mouse go the way I want?
  • Slack’s product platform is significantly more powerful and complex than I knew — how will I ever know it all?
  • There’s nobody next to me to ask the “quick one for you…” questions necessary to fill in the new company operational nuances

And this is where I change tack. Every word of the above is true, and nothing could have prepared me for how overwhelming the last couple of weeks have been because, well nothing could have prepared any of us for the way in which the world works right now. Therefore, I am far from alone.

So, I have dismantled each of the obstacles above to figure out my path to success - and, above all — to recognise that the world requires us to be kinder to ourselves and those around us right now. We may have to take a less direct route to achieve success, but what’s important is that we find a way to get there. Here are my ramblings…..

  • General, basic new starter important stuff (often sufficient to trigger a healthy dose of anxiety alone)

It’s always a steep learning curve when you join a new organisation and you need to place reasonable expectations on yourself to “know it all”. Being the eldest of 6 children, approval from “adults” is important for me so a place of not-knowing is an uncomfortable, but I know, temporary location. My experience at Slack has been magical — I have been welcomed with warmth, and authentic offers of support and time at every juncture. I am taking these up and letting people know what I do not know. A lot, still!

  • Remote on-boarding — even where @LouiseHolmes has done an awesome job in delivering key content, driving participant engagement, and balancing home-life chaos

The Onboarding program at Slack has transitioned exceptionally well to a digital version. It combines the right balance of content and context, while introducing champions of each function to present their remit, and demonstrate the calibre of colleagues we can look forward to collaborating with. Breaks from Zoom, and fun sessions to keep us connected meant it was a truly enjoyable learning experience. Don’t get me wrong — it’s impossible to replace the experience of connecting in person with your new company, and with those who are accompanying you on the onboarding journey — but Slack has adapted super fast. This is the third remote cohort and they continue to iterate in real time based on participant feedback.

  • Children are everywhere and there is nowhere to hide

I have four daughters between the ages of 3 and 10 so, despite my husband and I drafting a loose plan around rights to the office, who supervises downstairs, and the constant snack distribution associated with hungry children; suffice to say the interruptions are often, and your ability to really embrace your learning, and consume the content to get you on a path to productivity is compromised. I was surprised by how much of a curveball this was in terms of upping the difficulty stakes for me. Children interrupting is something we are all living with and which I have been very comfortable with. After all, this is their home first and I am kind of borrowing it until we get back on track. What I hadn’t factored in however, was my own need to really concentrate, which is what led to some frustration in weeks one and two. But those are my own woman-made pressures, which I need to keep check of and remain pragmatic about. Being kind must start with being patient and kind with oneself right now.

  • I’ve never used a MAC before — why won’t the mouse go the way I want?

No elaboration required. My husband is still laughing at my despair when I asked him to fix my mouse :-)

  • Slack’s product platform is significantly more powerful and complex than I knew — how will I ever know it all?

So, this is truly mind-blowing and means that the opportunity I envisaged before formally joining this dynamic organisation is only a fraction of the potential for fulfilment. The tagline is clearcut — — what business isn’t curious to see what value Slack can bring to their ambitions? The last three weeks have shown me the power of the platform firsthand as I witness the collaboration cross-teams, as well as the integration of our key tools and systems to make each one of us more successful. I can’t wait to work with my teams and customers to bring this mission to fruition.

  • There’s nobody next to me to ask the “quick one for you…” questions necessary to fill in the new company operational nuances

While nobody knows what the new business operating model will look like in terms of remote v office-based work, we know it will look considerably different from the pre-Covid world order. And we know that organisations are building remote capabilities into their future every day. However, I don’t think we will ever again take for granted the importance of physical proximity and connection, the value of the coffee break chats, or the ability to reach out to the nearest person for a 30-second query. This is the other blind spot I have experienced, but I am identifying the right slack channels as repositories for my data needs, and balancing this with specific 1:1 channels or Zooms to address gaps. Effectively, this is my own baptism of fire in working differently — in connecting differently, in learning differently, and ultimately in being productive differently. Covid-19 has added some complexity to the process but I know the supportive arms of Slack will get me there.

With all of that being said, perhaps this experience could be one of the biggest and best learning curves that I will have in my career. Being a remote new hire will push me to think outside of the box — to discover more Slack features, to identify alternative business opportunities and to seek new ways to support customers that I otherwise may never have thought of, had I onboarded in the “old normal”. And maybe, just maybe one day I will look back and recognise that I started my Slack journey at the exact right moment in time, and not a second before.

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