Sunday, April 6, 2014

Disentangling, Control Freak-Style

It's a control freak's nightmare...having to slowly and inexorably release the grip on the helm and allow someone else to take over steering the ship. Never mind how competent, capable, energetic, and excited the new helmsman is (which he totally is!), it is still a very difficult thing to do. I only hope I can do it with grace and humor.

My Body Shop relief (BSR) showed up at the beginning of February. He's coming from grad school, an off-season transfer. Serendipitiously, he also took over from me on MAUI, so we've worked together (briefly) before. I'm just glad he wasn't so put off my whatever messes I left on MAUI (because inevitably, there were some) that he ran screaming into the night when he heard he'd be relieving me again.

It has been *great* to have this relief time with him -- we have an almost four month turnover period. BSR took the first few weeks to find his way around the building and attend some useful DHS budgeting training, which will serve him well. We also spent a bit of that time going over the basics about Body Shop issues. My (old) account (good grief, I can't even seem to talk about in a way that is not deeply imbued with ownership) is complicated and technical: FTP and FTE, actuals, enacted, PresBud levels, all slightly different; mandatory appropriations versus discretionary appropriations versus supplemental appropriations, and how they each affect the FTP/FTE numbers; military, civilian (temp, term and permanent) and SELRES workforces, all with different management strategies; PPA structure; how OE is different from AC&I is different from the other minors; Balanced Workforce Strategy (BWS) and the Balanced Workforce Assessment Tool (BWAT); the details go on and on.

One of the hardest things I've been trying to do since BSR took over (officially on 7 Mar) is to listen to a conversation and not jump in with my opinion, and instead let him form and communicate his own opinion. I've pretty much sucked at it. I'm trying to tell myself it's still ok...the subtleties of many of these issues took me more than a year to understand, so BSR is continuing to learn about the connections while I spout out the details.

But I think I know how he's feeling...or at least I remember how I felt after about two months with these there was a mountain of information I was trying to dig through with a teaspoon, looking for gold nuggets of relevancy, but I didn't know what gold looked like -- and it was dark anyway. I spent many, many days wondering when I was going to get fired for being the dumbest person in the room.

So I'm trying to be encouraging, reminding BSR that this is complicated stuff, that I've been working with it for over two years, and I still get taken by surprise by nuances.

Another hard thing about any kind of relief is that new issues will continue to crop up even as others quiet down and return to their graves (sometimes to churn back up like zombies a couple weeks or months later). The bureaucracy chugs along. I joke that I have left BSR a bakery case full of shit-filled twinkies (thanks to my Company Commander from Boot Camp for that lovely twinkie analogy :)). I don't know what all the issues are; I know, or can guess, what some of them might be. But I can only do my best to give him the information and background to react to anything new that comes up.

With schools and leave (trip to Hawaii!!! Yay :D), I have about 18 days left in the office. I'm definitely ready to go on to the next adventure...but I'm not sure I'm ready to leave this challenge yet. Definitely the good kind of problem to have.