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Jumping from the frying pan … ?

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers

If the people at your new job are ridiculously happy to see you, beware. You’ve just inherited a big mess.

Yes, they’ll give you a grace period. But if they’re ecstatic because you’re going to save the team, keep your eyes and ears open. As early as the interview stage, you may see warnings. That’s the time to start asking “What problems are you hoping to solve by hiring me?”

Look for problems like these:
  • A vacuum exists in leadership, strategy and vision.

  • People, money or materials are being mishandled.

  • People don’t know what’s going on or what they’re supposed to be doing.

  • People think they don’t matter.

Naturally, you never know what you’ll find until you’re on the job, but if you stumble into a viper’s nest, apply one or more of these solutions.
  • Identify what it will take to solve the problems. Talk to people at all levels. Ask them to think big.

  • Take a no-fault approach, especially until you know where loyalties lie. Let people vent about the incompetent idiot who came before you, but don’t let them drone on forever. Each failure holds the potential for success.

  • Prioritize the problems. What’s most important? What can you act on first and most productively? What can you defer?

  • Communicate to everyone that the trouble you’ve inherited is not the way you do business.

  • Avoid being identified with the source of the problems, if those people are still around. The old dogs may challenge you, but remember that your own credibility is at stake.

  • Start with small, meaningful changes. Work quietly and show people that you’re capable and in charge.
— Adapted from “Cleaning Up Your Predecessor’s Mess,” Lucy Webb, Washington Business Journal.

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