I’ve started a new job and there are so many quality problems I don’t know where to start.

What ideas can you give me to put a plan together?


What we are describing here is effectively a coping strategy combined with a prioritisation plan. Hopefully the people who took you on for this new role are already aware of the situation and aren’t expecting miracles overnight.

Do get used to communicating often and in some detail about where you are and when your management team can expect to see some results from your efforts. Make sure you make it clear to them what you are doing and what problems you are dealing with. More importantly, tell people what you are not dealing with – yet.

In terms of prioritising where to start, do take time to assess exactly what the current situation is. If things are as bad as you imply, then having an overview is vital to ensure you spend your efforts wisely. Part of your initial assessment should be an evaluation of the pain that each problem is causing. Here you can take advice from those around you to understand the implications of each problem and the cost to them in terms of time spent dealing with the outcomes of the problem.

This will help you to prioritise areas for improvement. The more pain you can resolve for each unit of your effort the better. Don’t spread your efforts too thinly by trying to tackle a whole range of issues at once. There is an unwritten rule with project management that it is better to have just a few projects on the go at any one time.

This way they all get done better and quicker, which frees you up to deal with the next one. If you can do this and deliver real benefits then try to hang on to at least a percentage of the savings in time or money to reinvest in further improvements. This should be easier with a positive track record, thus enabling you to move from the vicious circle of fighting fires and controlling problems over to the virtuous circle of improvement with fewer problems and more resources to effectively solve them.

Be aware of the temptation to get involved in matters of routine and general support. Many people in the organisation will want your input but your focus has to be on the problem landscape until resources are available to spend time and effort on tackling problems through effective process design and robust management systems. The culture shock of having a seemingly endless range of problems to deal with can be immense, particularly if you have come from a job where you have had time to sit back and think. However, the satisfaction of seeing the transformation through cannot be bettered.


Latest Job Listings