On following into someone else’s footsteps

Almost all of us do it when we start a new job – we follow into someone else’s footsteps. It can be easy if we don’t know anything about the person we’re replacing, or if we have full confidence that we are the best person for the job. But most of the time, it’s hard. How are you going to compare to the last person? How did they do things? Should you keep doing the same or do you change things up?

I never really put much thought into how hard it might be for the next au pair when I was working for my last host family. After being there for two years, the kids were really used to me and the way I do things. I didn’t think about how that could be for the next girl until I decided to be an au pair for another year as well, with a different family.

The family I work for now had the same au pair for three years. And I was so nervous to take her place because I don’t know what she was like and how she did things. But I do know that they loved her. I didn’t want to disappoint.

I think that’s the biggest thing about following into someone’s footsteps: you don’t want to disappoint the people around you. Not only because you’re doing a job that you would like to keep, but also because it’s a terrible feeling.

So here are a few reminders for if you’re following into someone’s footsteps:

  • Wherever you’re working, whatever you’re doing, they chose you to work for them for a reason. So just be yourself and it will all work out.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. It takes time to learn how things work in a new place.
  • Even if things go wrong, smile, and try to fix them in the best way possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Have fun with your new job – play around with things and get to know the people you work for/with. It’s a new start and you should enjoy it.


  1. 15 November 2019 / 9:24 am

    Those are some great tips! It’s quite hard to follow into someone else’s footsteps but with the right mindset you can definitely do it. we shouldn’t be too hard on our self and know that each and everyone of us is different.

  2. Ruth I
    12 November 2019 / 6:30 am

    I still can remember my corporate job. It was so hard for me to ask questions because people were so busy. It took me a year before I became comfortable with workmates. Great tips!

  3. Kiwi
    11 November 2019 / 8:01 am

    I think I only had to be in this situation maybe once or twice in my life. Eventually someone else’s shoes are your shoes so own it!

  4. 11 November 2019 / 5:03 am

    I feel like it can be overwhelming when you’re in the position of filling someone else’s shoes. I think that once you realize that you are your own person and you have confidence in your work ethic, you can do a great job.

  5. 10 November 2019 / 8:00 pm

    Whenever you or somebody else starts a new job you always get compared with the last person doing it, so always just try to be yourself and you will be okay

  6. 9 November 2019 / 10:52 am

    Yes, it can be difficult to be the new person. Always feeling as though you are being judged against your predecessor. However, people will soon forget that you’ve not always been there.

    • maartjevansandwijk
      10 November 2019 / 11:05 am

      That’s so true! It’s really just the beginning that it’s difficult and are questioning everything 🙂

  7. 5 November 2019 / 12:43 pm

    I’ve struggled with this for quite some time when I filled in for someone at work. I always thought about how well she did things and how she set the standard so high up; how was I going to be like her? But then a catch up with my team lead one time changed my perspective entirely; I’m my own person and I should be able to do the job in the best way I can, there’s no need for me to think about how the other person before me was like. Thank you for sharing your reminders, Martha!

    Anna Jo | http://helloannajo.blogspot.com

    • maartjevansandwijk
      10 November 2019 / 11:05 am

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! And you’re absolutely right – everyone does things in their own way and the best way they can!

Leave a Reply

Looking for Something?