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Managing Mid-Stream Mayhem

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Have you ever had to figure out a job or assignment, only to have someone come back and try to train you how to do it later?  In my experience as an employed person and Career Coach, there is a lot more ‘figuring things out’ when it comes to jobs and assignments these days.  While the workplace may be more ‘entrepreneurial’ in nature, there are still some things you can do to minimize the headache.

By en:User:Mwanner [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Just like reforming any new habit takes effort and intention, so does creating or taking on a new job role or assignment. If you’re in charge of onboarding, think through the content of what you want and your intent for the position that is being filled, and share it with the person doing the work.  If you’re the one blazing the trail or doing the work with little or no support:

  1. Ask those that matter.  Start by asking decision makers (i.e. your actual boss) if there are already procedures.  If there aren’t, share what you see as the need and how you plan on solving it.  This can serve as a way to get their buy-in for your approach from the start.
  2. Leave a trail.  Write down your procedure or process for how you’re accomplishing your work.  This can serve as a manual either for the person who replaces you as you blaze the next trail or for yourself the next time you’re paving a path.
  3. Know your choice.  If you opt to ask for ‘forgiveness’ rather than ‘permission’ when you approach your tasks, recognize that you made this choice so you can be prepared to change course or redo your work once the Decision Makers realize they had no plan in place and decide to give you instructions ‘after the fact.’

As frustrating or exhilarating as being a Pioneer can be, make it work for you by keeping track of the skills you use in this role, so you can capture the magic of what you have to offer in the next draft of your resume.

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