Sunday, April 22, 2007

Week two of the new job

I'm two weeks into the new job now. The crappiest bit so far has been a cold I've been fighting against for the last week, but I'm looking forward to that grand moment when it clears and I'm able to be a normal person again!

On Tuesday each of us Outreach newbies had to deliver a short presentation to a team meeting on one of the services we'll be selling to our clients. It was meant to be all comfy and unthreatening, but then our three levels of bosses turned up, so we all got a little scared! But we managed to get through it. Personally I really appreciated the other presentations as a way to a) teach me about the service and b) teach me about how to sell the service - rather than learn each one all by ourselves.

As a team, I think we're doing really well. We're collaborating a lot. One of us had a brilliant idea of having a "newbies" meeting once a week, without our supervisor or anything. There's a risk inherent in the idea that we could be seen to be a mini team inside a larger team, and it may serve to hamper our integration prospects, but for the moment I think it's a great way for us to encourage and support each other.

We had the first newbies meeting on Friday. I discovered that everyone is feeling just as lost as me, including those team members that I was under the impression were feeling very capable. It was very, very cool. I was really feeling like I was the one behind, the lost one, and it made it very clear to me that we're all feeling like that - which goes some way to reducing the feeling.

The other cool thing in that meeting was the level of collaboration - one of our team members has been creating templates for some of her activities, and was eager to share. I'm so pleased that attitude is present. In other workplaces I can imagine that people would be posessive of their work, but I'm hoping this reflects a larger collaborative attitude. Hopefully we can keep it up!.

I still don't know much about my clients. They are the Research Centres and Hospitals, but I haven't spoken to many of them yet. I've made my first appointment to speak to an academic, but it's not until mid-May. By the looks of it most of the rest of the team are planning for Monday to be a heavy calling day, trying to make appointments. Sounds good to me. I'll revert back to my market research days to make all these cold calls.

What do I know about them so far? They don't teach undergraduates, so there are a few services that won't be as much a part of my marketing package as they are for other people. I'm expecting that their research needs are likely to be more specialised than other groups. They've not been targeted by the library before, which means that there's a lot of potential. They are likely to be very focused on their research circles, and probably feel more loyal to those than to the university.

This last point is relevant to me. It raises two challenges:
1. Getting them to use the library for research may be difficult because, if they are working in a very specialised area, it's likely that they already know all the other researchers in their field. Instead of relying on the library to provide them with information, they probably get these people to send them publications directly.
2. Getting them to use other library-related services, like ARROW, might be hard. Simply put, ARROW is the digital repository used by UNSW. These people need to be convinced that they will benefit from depositing their publications in ARROW, but this could be hard if there are already standard repositories for their research areas.

So far the only solution I have to both challenges is to emphasise the benefits of interdisciplinary research activities. ARROW doesn't look too hard to sell because it doesn't preclude any other kinds of publication - copyright stays with the author - and it also looks seriously simple to use. That's kind of what I have to do with the first challenge as well - introduce them to a way of using the library for research that won't take more time and can be easily integrated into what they already do.

My target for the week ahead is to make appointments, and lots of them. I'll also be working on personalising a script and some sales pitches for different services.

I want to be good at this job, because it has a lot of career-building potential. The Outreach team will be seen as responsible for an improved attitude to the library amongst the academics - so there's an outcome that I can point to. In addition, I love working with new models, so I want the whole team to get good at what we do so we can then have the space to build on it and play with new ideas.

Most of all, though, I'm impatient, and I've spent two weeks not having any real idea of how to do my job. I'm sick of it. Time to get good, already!

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