Find out What Works and Refuse to Change It

There is no reason to re-create the wheel. There are a million ways that you could modify a wheel, but in the end, the best rolling structure will still be circular, this I can promise you.

I’m going to kick this off with my favorite and most painful example. When I started my first job, I was asked to complete a client status tracker. This was an excel document that we would share with the client each week that listed each project, a detailed timeline, and all the details that surrounded each and every project. I thought that it was the silliest part of my job. I was fresh out of college and I couldn’t figure out why we needed to have so much dang info in this document.

Every single day, I had to take at least an hour to update everything that changed that day. I crossed off things that had been done, highlighted anything that was behind schedule in red, added in all our new projects, and made changes to all the project details. It took freaking forever and I couldn’t wrap my head around why I had to spend so much time keeping this document updated. When we met with the client, the only thing she really cared about is if we were on schedule and what she owed us.

I worked for this company for five years. For five years I maintained this document with this “crazy” level of detail. Then when I took my next job and I was in a similar role and they didn’t have any type of document like this. It immediately became painfully obvious why it was needed, not only was it needed but required.

Everyone in the company ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. Everyone answered questions about the details of the projects differently and projects were way behind schedule (and they didn’t even know they were behind schedule).

The first thing I did when I started in this role was to develop a process that included meeting with the full team every day to review all the project details. Confusion cleared up, projects were completed on time, the clients were thrilled, and I stopped getting constant emails with questions because everyone knew where they could look for the answers. What I’m getting at is sometimes even when things seem so silly, they can be so incredibly important, and you won’t understand the magnitude of the processes unless they are removed.

As you learn about your roles and responsibilities you should try to ensure that everything you do has a purpose and that you aren’t just doing something because it’s always been done or been done a certain way. Understand the process at a deeper level.

When I have come into new roles, I have tried to make sure that I understand what I am doing and the why behind it. There are a lot of times when people do a certain job for a long time that they might do something a certain way and not necessarily have a good rationale for how and why they do it. If you feel like a task isn’t valuable, make sure to discuss the purpose of the task.

If someone asks you why you are doing something you should have a clear answer and everyone should be on the same page.

There is a reason that processes and procedures are created. It’s to provide a universal structure that works for all parties involved. Companies spend a lot of time testing out processes and developing the best methods that work for them. As you progress throughout your career, you will see that there will be times where it will be obvious that implementing a new process would be beneficial. Be assertive and bring it up. The structure is usually a good thing.

If a structure already exists, avoid changing it unless you have a good reason. I have seen so many people come into a new role and without having a total understanding of the system they try to make changes to processes because they think they can do it better only to learn that the process in place was set up in the best possible manner once they were a little deeper into their role. My personal rule is that I like to be in my role observing for at least two months before you start questioning process and I try to avoid making major changes until I’ve been in my role for six months. Usually, the first year in a new role is just getting up to speed and really understanding your purpose. Don’t be the person who comes in and light the world on fire on day one.

There is always room for improvement, but you should strive to improve and not re-do.

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