You just landed that dream job or lucrative contract. You’re ready to get settled and dig into your new workload when you discover the previous employee or consultant left the project in shambles! Don’t fret. All is not lost. With focus and determination, it doesn’t matter if the previous regime dropped a hydrogen bomb you can survive and thrive in your new work environment. In my years as a project management professional and crisis manager, these are the top 5 tenets of succeeding in a new work environment.
- Make no excuses. There is a fine line between a reason and an excuse. You may be giving what you think is the best reason in the world for setbacks but all management hears is “Wonk, wonk, wonk” (insert Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice here). Of course past inequities can cause present headaches, but its far more effective to recognize a problem and offer a resolution than it is to highlight the problem solely.
- Don’t complain about the previous regime. Professionally, its the tool of a lazy, unimaginative mind. If your response to every inquiry about work product is “the previous person didn’t do this” or “did that”, generally you have five business days before the follow up response is “well, why haven’t you fixed it?”. I find following a subpar consultant or employee a great opportunity to prove yourself valuable. After all, if the previous regime’s work product was that substandard and yours is of great quality, it wont be long before management recognizes and rewards your value.
- Keep constant, effective, open lines of communication with management. Nothing can tank you quicker than your boss not knowing what it is you are doing or you’ve accomplished. Silence is only golden in a movie theatre. If you leave room for your boss to wonder what you’re doing, you also leave room for he/she to wonder if someone can do your job better. Send daily, weekly, and monthly updates on your progress, questions or concerns. Its not micro-managing, its showing off efficiency and a concern for the work product.
- Have answers to questions before management asks. Pose your own thought-provoking questions. Having answers to questions before someone even thinks to asks them and asking your own poignant questions shows interest in the project you manage and your ability to achieve results.
- Be solution oriented, not problem focused! This can not be stressed enough. Even the most likable person can complain themselves out of a job. A successful resumé is built on projects completed in an effective solutions-oriented manner. Not only should the solution solve the problem but should address not encountering the problem again in the future.
All work environments are different, but also similar in may ways. This is not a flawless guide to taking over the world but keeping these tenants in mind in any job could prove invaluable. Success, however you define it, is a definitive choice. With proper preparation, research and attitude the dedicated professional can thrive anywhere!
Jayson Bailey is a principal at the MedTech Consortium, a healthcare technology, IoT and management consulting firm.