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Lessons Learned at My Most Recent Job

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Today is my first day of "unemployment" in the last 12 years. I'm switching jobs, soon to start at NerdWallet. This time, I decided to take a couple of weeks off in between to reset and reflect. Here are some thoughts from my last job.

Work (only) on projects with impact

Don't waste time on projects that don't have impact. In any organization, there are many projects that need to be done that may not be "sexy". That doesn't mean they are not valuable. But try to pick projects that are at least of critical importance, if not interesting.

Note: be especially wary of projects that you feel passionate about. Sometimes that can blind you to the (lack of) upside. Double-check with an impartial third party that they will have high impact.

Stop trying to kill dead snakes

Hopefully you have an organizational culture where big decisions are made with lots of input. While a big decision is in the works, argue your convictions passionately, but hold those convictions loosely. Be open to having your mind changed. Either way, once the decision is made behind closed doors, you must support it in front of the team at large.

Don't waste time going forward second guessing decisions that have already been made. If you just can't stand it, open up the discussion behind closed doors again.

Get everyone on board

For any big decision, but especially for things that you're personally pushing for, it's absolutely critical to get everyone on board with the decision. This doesn't just mean a few people. Start by having private discussions ahead of time with key individuals. One on ones are great for this. Have them bring it up with their one on ones. Make sure the key players are on the same page, and can echo back the reasoning, as well.

The easiest time to get everyone on board is before rolling something new out. The second easiest time is during roll out. The hardest time is after the fact.

Go around difficult people

If you can't go through a key person to get something necessary done, you may have to go around them as a last resort. For the most part, people only have as much power over you as you let them have. Sometimes it can be hard to see that. Don't be afraid to change the power dynamic by simply refusing to respect it.

Power voids are made to be filled

Any time someone just above you in the organization leaves, it creates a power vacuum that is just waiting to be filled. These are great times to double down, take on more responsibility and work harder. Don't wait for someone to ask you to take those responsibilities over.

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Published at DZone with permission of Chase Seibert, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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