Normally if my manager wanted to talk with me, he would come out of his office and talk at my desk. It would often be about when the next software release was due, or how it was progressing. If we were meeting in his office it was a scheduled catch up. Occasionally it would be because I had an issue to talk through. So I was a little surprised, wondering if there was some sort of problem that I had missed when he rang me and asked me to meet him in his office. His office was about five metres from my desk. A phone call was not a usual event. When I went into his office, he closed the door. Oops!
Firstly, for some background for people who are not familiar with recruitment processes in the Public Service. You did not get a promotion without a formal process where the job was advertised, open to all, often to the public as well as serving officers. If there was a temporary vacancy while someone was on leave, then another officer would be asked to do the job on an “acting” basis. This was usually to be able to provide authorisations. For example to approve leave applications or, rarely, necessary expenditure If that vacancy was for more that 2-3 weeks (for example, planned long service leave) then it would have to be advertised as a fixed term acting role.
So, now for the meeting with my manager (a Senior Executive Service Officer band 1, the lowest of the highest level of officer in the Commonwealth Public Service). He started by informing me that due to some major problems in another part of the organisation, he was being transferred for several weeks. It was out of the blue that I was to fill in – “act” in his job for the period. No advertisement to fill the job temporarily. There was no time. This was Friday, and he was moving to the new role on Monday. The administrative process for me to act in his job would be actioned immediately. No advertisement of a vacancy, no recruitment process. Just a meeting on Friday to take up the job on Monday. So you can see why this was an “out of the blue” experience.
I ended up working in the job for over seven months. It was one of the most rewarding roles I had while working in the Australian Public Service.