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Insights: How to Succeed with a Boss and His "Pet" Project

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Submitted by: WISE Washington, D.C. member | 6-15 years professional experience

I've started a new job, expanding a department to two members. There are many projects that my boss is “handing over” to me. And so far, most of my attempts have been “wrong” despite having no framework, background or expectations provided to me. Creatively, I understand it’s tough for people to let go of pet projects or initiatives they've started, but how do I foster trust in my abilities with my boss? Or do I just ask for step-by-step specifics and robotically complete these projects?


Starting a new job can be exciting and stressful. The beginning days and weeks will be key to how the entire job experience plays out.

If some of these new tasks hadn't been covered in the hiring process, now is the time to clarify goals and expectations. Schedule a sit-down meeting with your boss with a very specific agenda: how to be in sync through the process of “handing over” projects. Ask for one example of how he or she wants a project done, reflect back what you've heard, and ask more questions if need be, especially about what was “wrong” during a previous attempt. (As a new hire, now is the time!) What may be “robotic” to you may be part of the “fostering trust in your abilities” process to your boss.

Often, it's important to go through the established steps to have the best perspective on what to change or suggest. With learning curves, probation, a new office culture to navigate and integration into a history that you didn't create, starting a new job can be very humbling. Try to remember how you wowed them in your interviews, why they picked you, and why they wanted you!

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Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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