Saturday, May 15, 2010

So This Is How The Big Kids Do It

Working for a large organization is different. For me, anyway. My experience has been in newsrooms, which resemble nothing so much as classes for gifted kids; everybody's smart, everyone wants to excel, everyone gets excited about the assignments.
Nerds, really. I fit right in.

There are over five hundred people working for my new employer in just my building. There are more in other locations. And the reality of what it means to join them is beginning to sink in. It's an adjustment.

Here's what's the same: the people are smart. They want to do a good job. They buckle down and work on a project with a clear sense of personal investment. That's my experience since I'm here.

What's different is that individual sense of achievement. Everything is done together, projects are divided among several people. There is limited opportunity to just plow into a project and see it through with the knowledge that its failure or success is due to my own efforts. And there is little opportunity to have any personal victories. That's my experience so far, though I see that my job does offer a places to shine.

And what surprises me is that's important to me. I'm not an egotist, or at least I never thought I was. But I love the highwire balancing act that puts me out all alone on the wire, with a chance to crash to earth or step, victorious, to the other side. I won awards for my work in journalism and much as I pooh poohed it, that was really satisfying. My award in this job will be my continued employment. Maybe once in a while someone will say "good job".

I think I'll be okay with that once I'm confident enough of what I'm doing to know when I've done a good job. I at least have to be able to pat myself on the back. Right now, I'm still not even sure of that.

I'm trying. I'll say that. I'm working, I'm learning, I'm proposing ideas and I'm jumping into projects whenever asked. But what a strange feeling to spend an hour racing against the clock to pull together material and not be sure that what you're doing is exactly what's required. And then to get no feedback except that some of it is included in the final product which five people all contributed to.

Am I looking for someone to pat my head and tell me I did well? Yipes. I hope not. But it's possible.


Whitney Lee said...

I think everyone needs that pat on the back. It's not a lack of maturity. I view it more as a natural desire to be told that we matter, that our contribution made a difference.

Susan said...

Whitney, I keep thinking that the really mature view is to know when you've done well and have that be enough. But I'm not there, apparently.

Pauline said...

I don't know, Susan - maturity sounds pretty stale if there's no personal reward in it. I'm all for team effort but see nothing wrong in individual praise where praise is due