Clean up on aisle 3. When you’ve inherited a mess.

Most times when beginning a new job or position, we quickly realize that the person who held the job prior to our arrival just wasn’t as good as they were made out to be. From the moment we moved into our new desk, we start finding unopened mail, incomplete projects and open-ended handwritten notes that appear to have had no resolution. The best and worst thing about this inherited situation is that we are now responsible for the outcomes, regardless of how messy it was before we pushed our buggy down that aisle.

While it is unfortunate that we are being “punished” for someone else’s neglect, there is a bright side to the black hole of a cubicle you now inhabit. This is THE chance for you to make good on all of those promises that were made during that interview. That difficult situation you spoke of, this is it and it has to be handled like you advertised. That strength that you were so proud to mention, well now is your chance to flex that muscle.

The reality is that as difficult as the learning curve already is for stepping into a new position, it actually does benefit us to step into some challenges:

  • If everything were running like a fine-tuned machine, the C-Suite would quickly realize that they really didn’t need to hire you. The necessity of your position is the last thing you should be worrying about in your 90-day probationary period. Justify their investment.
  • Instead of being told incomplete stories and biased opinions about clients and projects, you get to see, read and discover what was really going on so that you can actually reach some resolutions. You’ll never get the whole story from someone who couldn’t handle it. Research and reconstruct to find the origin of the issues, and offer aggressive solutions to show that you are serious about offering value-added service.
  • This is your chance to put your own stamp on the company’s operational processes. If the old way CLEARLY wasn’t working, your method of organizing the left behind mess can become the new standard for how things are done going forward.
  • Be the Knight (or Knight-ess) that rides in on the white horse to actually deliver what your clients want. If they have been given and are accustomed to mediocre service, your “Wowing” them will not only benefit them, but also help enhance the reputation of your organization. Clients’ specifically asking for you to assist says a lot about you to your new management team!
  • Once you’ve repaired what was broken and cleaned what was dirty, you will be relied on to assist with other (possibly less messy and even more valuable) projects and clients. Before you are trusted with new responsibility, you are going to have to prove yourself. You wanted more meaningful work; prove that you can handle the outstanding and present issues first. Establish your credibility and work ethic early and often.

Welcoming the bumps and obstacles of a new position early definitely makes them easier to handle, as they get bigger and more frequent. Why wait to show what you’re worth? Set yourself up for success right out of the gate by making an immediate, positive, and valuable impact.

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