That’s not how we did it at my old job

Everyone has heard a colleague utter the phrase “That’s not how we did it at my old job.” Chances are you have said it yourself at one time or another. It is a common refrain and is sure to inspire mixed reactions from those who hear it.

  • Some people may think that the person is bringing relevant information to the table.
  • Others may think that the person is just trying to make themselves seem important.
  • Others may think “that will never work here”

The truth is that everyone leverages past knowledge/experience to conduct their current job. If this was not the case, managers would not care about professional experience. Hiring people who have performed similar jobs helps with the on-boarding process and execution of a job.

However, where we need to be careful is assuming what worked at one company will work at the current one. This is due to the fact that companies are very different from each other:

  • Goals – each company wants to maximize profits, but how they wish to achieve this varies. Some want to increase the amount of profit per project. Others want to increase the number of projects with each client. The goal of the company (and each project) may vary from company to company and applying preconceived notions can be problematic.
  • Internal processes – even if your previous company had the same goals as your current job, the processes that are used to get there may vary. Company formal (Policies, SOPs, and Work Instructions) and informal processes are likely to vary from company to company. Unless you take the time to learn the processes of your current company you are likely to run afoul of them.
  • Stakeholders – over time at your previous jobs you became familiar with your stakeholders and learned what they required of you. At a new job you need to take time to do the same thing. Each stakeholder (internal and external) needs/wants different things. Assuming they all want the same will lead to project and professional stumbles.

Using previous experiences will help you prepare for a new job, but when you join a firm you must be careful to take the time to understand how/why your current company operates. Focus on the goals, processes, and stakeholders of the new job. Taking the time to understand how your current job works will improve how you operate and may also help prevent any missteps.

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