A lot of colleagues had assumed that I had been off sick for a couple of days. A good number were concerned about me. Nice of them. I had of course let those most immediately impacted know I would not be around. I had had a few phone calls but not as many as expected. It seems the work done to prepare for my holiday recently and also the stronger direction I had given to my teams had paid off.
I had gone through a phase where I had got far to drawn into working on a lot of line-management activity, administration and chairing of meetings which is not what I was supposed to be doing. I have just about managed to move away from this most of the time (I have to get involved a few times most days and help people see the light) but generally can now focus again on thinking harder and solving or (more importantly) avoid bigger problems.
I have also been trying hard to protect my knee as much as possible. When it become very painful, it gets difficult to concentrate on work properly, which really annoys me. I generally avoid letting on how painful things are but it is difficult to keep it off my face some of the time and I have had a few mini-blackout moments (I avoid the stairs like the plague not just because they are difficult but because of the danger to me and others a faint represents). The black-outs are caused when I put load on the knee wrongly and I get a sudden extra shot of pain.
One of the things I put a lot of effort into is trying to keep people motivated and a good humorous atmosphere going. Tricky when in pain although no doubt some humour can be gained from this. (The advice of the physiotherapist to avoid sitting for more than half-an-hour and not to walk-around provides good material.)
The project I am working on has been through some difficult times recently and we are not where we want to be. There are good reasons for this and obviously there are things that we could all have done better but a huge amount of terrific work has been done. It is clear that there are some team members who have simply had enough and need to move on. Many others are demotivated at the moment. Working to alleviate these problems takes a lot of time and huge personal effort. Clearly, most of the leadership are suffering from huge pressures at the moment. Keeping things going and avoiding more problems as much as possible is stressful but is what the job is about. Despite everything, I am still really enjoying myself (frustration and stress part and parcel of this kind of work – dealing with them is a key skill). It is great to be working on a the full life-cycle of a delivery project and not having to move off onto another client to do strategy work as I used to.
That said, I am making a conscious effort to leave work at a sensible time of day. I do not want to have to be in the office after 6pm anymore. I had been averaging 7-8pm for a long time and was regularly going on to 9pm. Not good. I have remote broadband and usually do some work in the hotel as well (not much else to do) but it is good to have a break first. I am sure staying at my desk late causes me more knee problems as well. Working long hours is rarely that effective or efficient.
So, was I missed? Well, yes. I always see one of my objective though is to do myself out of a job (there is always another one to do). I am getting there on the current activities.