The left hand & the right hand

I’m the midst of 3 days training at work. I can’t say I’m enjoying it. That said, I rarely enjoy training. Sometimes it gives me opportunity to think up new ideas, design new processes etc. Not this time.

I think I’m trying to disengage. It’s the type of training I traditionally struggle with. It gets me a little bothered; emotional. Bordering on Hulk-like rage. It’s mainly because of a heightened belief that most of the facilitators don’t know the business. Actually, that’s not entirely the truth, it’s more to do with a lack of humility about the front line role (the facilitators, not me). It’s like some of them have forgotten what the work is like, and the others that haven’t worked in child protection before don’t bother to consider the gulf between knowledge and experience.

So this time I have kept quiet at the back, as is my wont. I have had opportunities to speak out – some unbelievable nonsense has been uttered in the last couple of days – but I know little good would come of it. I imagine my reputation has spread wide enough in head office (not very far, just north of the river) and not in a good way. Just a suspicion. I don’t intend to add fuel to the fire unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, it turns out there is an air of confusion. Yesterday the training referenced something that contradicted separate training I had the week before. This morning, thanks to the convenient distraction of urgent issues, I was largely absent. As we munched over our carbohydrate heavy sandwiches and cake, I got the distinct impression that there was a lack of clarity from the AM session. It appears some of the, erm, guidance, contradicted procedure (or general understanding of it). A number of people suggested I would have liked to be there, but I know better. I’d say something I would regret.

I must say it’s refreshing to see the training from the staff side of things. I should have mentioned it’s district wide, so most of the office is in attendance. Normally one or two staff members are off to training, and as team leader I get the feedback afterwards. This time round I see the same training and experience it. I can think about how to manage outcomes for staff, deal with the confusion.
It’s rather telling that the left hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. It demonstrates a lack of consistency. The silo effect – not one Department, but lots of mini-Departments doing their own thing. Neoliberalism in action.

It’s unfortunate – I’m sure the facilitators mean well – but it’s a more common reality of work in government these days. Troops can’t function with contradictory orders. Like any good CO I need to step in and restore some discipline. Not the harsh barking orders kind, but the kind that leads and motivates. There will be some good lessons out of the training – I always find it’s the subtle I get the most from – and it’s just managing the adjustment the team get from new information. I just have to keep them on course for the greater purpose. 

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