Achieve Success by Joining a Failing Project
We all want to be associated with success, so when there’s a failing project, most of us want to have nothing to do with it. However, if you’re looking for a way to give your career a boost, you may want to rethink that.
Projects could be deemed to be failing for countless reasons—over budget, missed deadlines, unstable deployments, buggy software, or customer dissatisfaction. Your natural instinct would probably be to stay away from the doomed project—who wants longer hours, added stress, and being associated with failure?
In most cases, management steps in to try to resuscitate failing projects. This could involve any number of actions, including moving key personnel from less critical path projects to the failing one. Although it may sound counterintuitive, being one of those employees selected for transfer to the failing project can be a great opportunity. In fact, it may benefit your career more to join a failing project than a successful one.
If you’re not afraid of a challenge and a little hard work, here are some examples of how embracing a failing project can help your career.
A failing project has a way of leveling the playing field, which can increase your visibility. Because higher-level staff members are desperate to save the project, they are willing to listen to anyone with suggestions on how to accomplish that. This renders all team members’ opinions equally valuable, regardless of title or experience.
Lower-level engineers may sit side by side with senior engineers, VPs, and managers, with everyone’s ideas receiving the same attention and consideration. This can give you enormous exposure that you wouldn’t normally get from a project that is smooth sailing, and it can be a chance to have your suggestions heard and implemented.
The threat of failure can be a great motivator for innovative thinking. Sometimes we don’t see the weakness of our procedures until they are stressed, exposing their deficiencies. This is the perfect time to break away from the norm and optimize your problem-solving skills. If you’re working on a project that’s in crisis mode, take advantage of the opportunity to stand out by showing how innovative you can be.
When a project is struggling and the team members are stressed, there are usually greater opportunities to take on new responsibilities that you would not otherwise be offered. Overworked employees are usually more than eager to pass on responsibilities to others who are willing and able to handle them. Embrace this opportunity to learn more, diversify your job skills, and become more valuable to the company.
Being assigned to a failing project is a no-lose situation: Because the project was already failing before you got there, the only way to go is up. You can’t be blamed for its failure, but you could receive credit for helping to save it, which could be the most rewarding experience of your career.
When joining a failing project, the greater the challenges, the greater the opportunities for growth. With the right attitude and approach, you can turn those formidable boulders into steppingstones to success.