Is it me...? Not sure where I am going any more...

(7 Posts)
Lightsareonnobodyshome Sun 26-Jan-20 20:08:00

I have been in my current role for 5 months and work for a clinical team in a senior admin capacity looking after the operational elements. The team do great work and are generally nice, but I just feel like I don't fit in. I am happy to muck in and do what needs to be done when they are short on numbers etc, but I am really struggling with what my role should actually be. The team see me as someone who works primarily for the boss and do some admin elements themselves and pass the tasks they don't want to me. I do understand that the nature of their roles mean they need some admin downtime, but I am expected to pick up tasks and provide cover without little choice. I take an interest in them but it seems very one way, and I feel that I am struggling to feel part of the team as I am the one says no to buying new equipment because of the budget or who changes a process because of legal requirements in order to cover the team.
When I first started one team member always seemed to put me down and tell me I was wrong with XYZ because it should be ABC, particularly in front of others, and I am not one to draw attention to myself of questions others in that way, but would double check afterwards and I would be right, so I feel my confidence is also waning. My last role I worked for a boss who had a gender bias, so I spent 12 months proving that I could do the job and in hindsight nailed it, but no longer wanted to continue in that position because it was unsupported and there was just no development and I just wanted to get out of that kind of environment.Over the past few years I seem to be stuck in the fixed term contract rut, working in roles where there is no value and no development of staff. I have never had a line manager suggest a course or programme of study, or tell me that I need to improve this or that and I just wonder what it is I am actually good at?? I am process driven and love admin/science/medicine but just not sure I am in the right job at the moment or indeed how I look for a role that will fit as my confidence in my ability to pick the role for me is 0. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

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maxelly Mon 27-Jan-20 12:28:32

Sympathies, I can see how that kind of environment would be tough on the self-esteem but for what it's worth I don't think it's you, in a lot of clinical professions (particularly doctors) they do tend to form close knit bonds amongst themselves which can feel quite clique-y/exclusionary to others, not on purpose but just a side effect of the high pressure work they do I think, and it can take ages, if not turn out to be impossible, to 'break in' to that and be seen as one of the team if you aren't part of that profession or at least clinical yourself. Some of them can just be arseholes too (sorry to anyone who thinks any hardworking healthcare professional is automatically an angel grin !)

It may be that this isn't the right thing for you long term, but I'd push on for now and get what you can in terms of experience out of it, and try and make some time to think about your next move.

Can you get some support from others in your organisation who do a similar role, if not from your immediate clinical team? Just getting together for coffee and a bit of chat/moan could make you feel less isolated and give you good ideas to take back to your own team. Have you proactively asked your manager for feedback on what you are doing well and what you can improve- yes good managers should do this without being asked but in my experience most will just assume you know you are doing fine unless they say otherwise, when in reality you are experiencing major self-doubt!

If this is NHS, I'm afraid the lack of offered development and training is just a bit par for the course and part of working with ever decreasing budgets - that's not to say its not possible to get training but you will probably have to be a lot more pushy than waiting for your manager to suggest something, why not get onto the trust learning and development pages and see what's going on, maybe see if there's a newsletter - I can guarantee there will be some training available, it may not be exactly what you want to do but you might be surprised by what you can pick up. Or get yourself onto NHS Jobs and just browse, see what kind of jobs take your fancy and what their requirements are in terms of skills and experience - if there are things in your trust (not necessarily training but projects or developments you can get involved in or people you could ask to shadow) that's a great way to broaden your horizons - another reason why building a good network internally is a good idea as you will get to hear what is interesting going on, there's always something!

Good luck...

Lightsareonnobodyshome Mon 27-Jan-20 20:47:45

Thank you maxelly, I really appreciate your commonsense and thoughtful response.

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midlifecrisis64 Wed 29-Jan-20 09:47:48

It's definitely not you. I work in a clinical admin environment and there is a very definitive clinical / admin split. I work for the NHS and there have been numerous occasions when a clinician has felt they can use their clinical status to talk to an admin worker in a certain way. Sadly, it's a culture and it seems it's across the board and not likely to change any time soon.

Is your current role fixed term? Have you spoken to your line manager about development opportunities / courses? If not, I'd be having that conversation as it shows you have a commitment to your professional development. However, unfortunately, admin get very little opportunities and in the environment you're working in, as where I work, it's always geared up for clinical staff.

In order to aide my own progression, I ended up self funding myself as it was the only way I was going to get the qualification I wanted. Start by thinking about where you want to be and whether you can financially support yourself to achieve what you need to aide development.

Lightsareonnobodyshome Fri 08-May-20 14:59:23

Really struggling with the impact of COVID on how our team is working and how team members have become very self focused, which I understand but this has heightened the isolation I feel as the only admin person within the team. I no longer know what my role is within the team, and I know everyone feels this to some degree. But at least they are able to continue with their roles and have some kind of purpose. I do what I can to help, cover different roles here and there but do not feel that I have a definite role or purpose, perhaps I am just too much of an oddity. I feel that they just don't know how to utilise my role, maybe this just isn't for me, despite me wanting so much to feel part of the team and a good service.

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Eebyjeebies Sat 09-May-20 09:04:08

I hear you!

My background is PA work. A while back I changed direction and now have a clinical job in the NHS. However, I am a band 4 and cannot move forward in my current role without going back to uni for three years. I already have a degree and don't particularly feel like going back to study/not earning for three years.

I'm considering going back to PA work but one of the reasons why I changed was clarity around the role and picking up all the work that other people can't be bothered to. An issue that got progressively worse over the years as numbers of admin staff have been reduced.

Admin staff ARE generally undervalued. In the NHS, it is almost worse because they are very low paid and there is the added problem of the culture. For some bizarre reason, quite a few clinicians assume that anyone who is not clinically trained does not have the knowledge or the intelligence to make decisions/manage. I can't tell you how many times I have heard staff say something along the lines of 'couldn't possibly understand unless you are a clincian'. The joke is that a lot of the time they are talking about basic things that could be understood by anyone with half a brain.

My background is private sector and, much as I love the NHS, the operational and management side of it is some of the worst I have seen in my career. I attribute a lot of this to highly qualified and knowledgeable clinicians running services who have no idea about operational management. All training is geared to clinical skills which further doesn't help.

In your position, I would start keeping a log of all the things you are doing. Divide these tasks into what you think should be under your remit and what you think shouldn't. Clarify this with your manager and agree with them what tasks you can push back on. From there, I would take a good hard look at the office and see what's not working and why. I would then look at improving those processes. Is there a booking system that is paper based (an NHS favourite!) that you could transfer to a spreadsheet?

I think the worst thing about admin jobs is that unless you've done the job yourself you will have no idea that picking up the random bits of crap is actually pretty soul destroying. Our service employed a new admin recently. When the team discussed tasks that person could do, the first suggestion was print and file hard copies of emails confused. I nearly bloody fell off my chair. Far better to take control and create a set up that will make everyone organised and efficient because frankly that is not a strength for the majority of clinicians.

If you are looking to move up, you could possibly look at the business manager/service manager/head of route. Is it possible but probably not as clear cut as being a nurse or physio.

Lightsareonnobodyshome Wed 22-Jul-20 20:26:01

Still no improvement, in fact I think covid has actually made things worse as it became like a scramble for work, with the clinical team trying to protect and justify the need for their roles, whilst trampling over colleagues in the process. So pretty much every man for himself so to speak! Have a new manager coming in, old manager has said that I will be able to mold new manager - really I was hoping that we would have someone who would manage and give me some direction. Sorry not meant to be a moan, just frustrating and soul destroying.Keeping a look out for new opportunities but conscious of the increase in job hunters.

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