February 21, 2008

Filling in someone else's shoes

My colleagues and I, to a lesser extent, having been adjusting to the death of a colleague these past 6 months. Most of my work team had many wonderful years working with her, as a co-worker and then as a manager. She established policies and procedures. She took the state to a new level of federal grant funding. She was well-known and loved around the state.

In August, I stepped into the position she held. While trying to get acclimated, I also attempt to fill the duties of my original position. Those duties have had me out of the office roughly 60% of the time since then. Unfortunately for my staff, my juggling skills have been less than adequate.

It has only been since the beginning of the year that I have felt that I am getting my sea legs. My work world has been a huge learning curve. It has been a struggle to get a time line of reports due, responsibilities expected, and just a standard work flow for the normal paperwork required. There are many standards we have to follow, many agencies we work with, and much political history to learn.

In the midst of all of this, there have been several occasions where "but we used to..." has surfaced, from many different levels - employees, upper management, other departments. I try regularly to listen to that feedback and see where it shows me expectations that I was not aware I had been missing. What has been a challenge is standing up when I am trying to lead in a new or different direction. I am a different person. I have a different management style. I have different ideas. I can't and won't ever be what my predecessor was. But, I strive every day to be the best ME I can be.

Making a Digital Recorder GO....

Our group is working on getting our Instructor Led Classes online. In order to enrichen this effort, we have started recording presentations. These get spliced down to manageable chunks of listening time. Well, last week, we were trying to determine how to record the presenter without having her hold the new digital recorder that was purchased. (It's a nice recorder - Olympus VN-3100PC - and allows quick download to the computer in .wav files.)

We found an older lavaliere microphone system in the tech closet. I pulled it out and said surely this must be able to connect. I took the kit home over the weekend, only to realize that the jacks were not compatible.

As you know, I'm a bit of a tech nerd. Despite that fact, I have not enjoyed or ever been really enthusiastic about going to FRY'S -- the mega mart for all things tech. This morning I reluctantly drove myself up to Fry's before driving 1.5 hours to a class. Within 10 minutes of walking into the store, I explained what I needed (a connector from an old style stereo microphone jack to one that would fit into an Ipod-size device), was led to the product, and was in line to purchase it.

As I write this, the solution is in use by the presenter and within the next coupled days I will be downloading the audio files to my computer.