Patience and process documents

My approach to starting a new role

‘Be patient. Take your time. It’ll all come together.’

These are a few things I’ve been repeating to myself over the last few weeks. I’d just started a new role, and as always, information-overload kicked in while the workload piled up.

Pieces of the puzzle

To allow me to understand a role thoroughly, I’ve taken to writing a process document for each new role I undertake. By process document, I mean a step-by-step guide to the tasks involved, with the idea being that a brand-new editor could get on with the job just by going off this document. It ends up being a good and thorough dummies’ guide and a total god-send, ensuring I become autonomous nice and swiftly.

I love the stability of having a process document to refer to, like laying a strong foundation for a new house. And it’s a living thing, constantly being updated as I find quicker and easier ways of doing things and fill in gaps in my knowledge.

Image: Hans-Peter Gauster

Image: Hans-Peter Gauster

More patience required

Now, I really nail the process document stage of things. What I’d like to keep improving is the level of patience I display with myself as I embark on a learning curve.

My problem is wanting to be a pro far too quickly. I’m in denial of needing to go through the amateur stage. My irrational need is to avoid making mistakes and just ‘get it’ almost immediately.

In the early weeks of this particular role, I caught myself out in self-judgement a bit too often. The thoughts that went through my head started out as irritated impatience leading to belittling self-talk moving on to creating the nauseating feeling of attracting the disapproval of my manager, then the much more troubling feeling of panic over losing the job. It’s incredible how rapidly negative thoughts can spiral into truly destructive ones.

Image: Romain Vignes

Image: Romain Vignes

The thing is, my manager could not have been more supportive and patient, even when I made pretty big errors that caused him more than a headache or two and extra work to fix. He was understanding and encouraged me to learn from everything and keep going. We talked a lot, we still talk a lot, which is the golden key: good, open communication. It helped me realise this fear and doubt was all in my head – I already had the job, and I was going to keep it.

Be kind to self and keep going

So he keeps giving me more work. And I keep getting it done, following my rock-solid process document; amending the info when necessary; double checking I’ve completed each task before I send it off for review.

Now, 10 weeks into the role, I feel the ground is much more steady underfoot. And I’ve gained the clarity of deciding to be more patient and take the time I need to be as thorough as I prefer to be.

In my next new role, I want to allow myself this time from the very start, even though it’ll mean taking longer than I’d like to get things done. Because that’s okay. It’s part of the learning process. The quality of work is worth the patience. And my health is worth the diminished stress of this approach.

How do you approach new roles? Do you have any tips that you’ve found work for you? 

Thank you for reading.

Desanka Vukelich