How to Deal with a New Boss – What to Do and Not to Do

new bossGetting a new boss can be nerve wracking, since a new boss can impact how you like your job going forward. Many things could stay the same or change. It’s that uncertainty that can unnerve you. While you may not be able to control how getting a new boss will change your work life overall, there are things you can do, and not do, to put your best foot forward with this new boss. By following the tips below, you can build a great first impression with your new boss, and set a good foundation for a positive relationship going forward.

What to Do

  1. Be open minded about your new boss – You may hear from other people about what this new boss will be like, but it’s best to make an assessment once you’ve met and worked with your new boss. Any preconceived notions about your boss may leave you prematurely biased. Give your new boss a chance to show you what he/she will be like.
  2. Be a resource to your new boss – It can be overwhelming for any person to step into a new boss role.  This person will need some time to get up to speed.   It’s in your interest to become a resource to your boss in helping him/her get up to speed.  Put together summaries of your work/outstanding issues, and try to spot opportunities where you can help your new boss get up to speed if needed.
  3. Gauge your boss’ management style and adapt to it – Every person has their unique management style.  Your old boss and new boss may have very different styles.  For example, your old boss may be very hands off, and your new boss may want more detailed updates and communication about your progress.  It’s important not to assume what your boss’s management style is.  Ask your boss what he/she perfers in terms of communication and issue escalation, and adapt your work style accordingly.  It is in your best interest for your boss to perceive you as someone that is easy to manage.
  4. Proactively ask your boss about expectations of your role – Even though you might have been working at this job for a while before getting this new boss, it’s important to proactively schedule a career/job expectation meeting with your boss.  The agenda can include:
    1. Communicate and align expectations about my responsibilities
    2.  Get advice on my career path.
    It’s important to make sure your boss and your old boss share the same expectations regarding your responsibilities. They might change, so this is when you can find out for sure. Also, by positioning yourself as asking for advice, you are subtly complimenting your boss, and you can find out how supportive he/she is regarding your career progression with this company.
  5. Keep working and performing – Just because your boss is still settling in, doesn’t mean you should stop and wait for his/her direction on work that is already in progress.   Keep working, and keep your boss in the loop for feedback.  Unless he/she provides direct feedback for you to stop or change what you are working on, continue the course of your work. Also make sure that your boss knows what you are working on, your progress, and any potential issues.
What Not to Do
  1. Don’t expect your boss to know your value – Even if you had great credibility with your old boss, don’t assume the same with the new one.  It’s always better to have low expectations, and assume that you will have to build your reputation from scratch.  This way any positive impression he/she already has of you would be a bonus.  You just never know how much the old boss communicated with the new boss, if at all.  It’s better to assume none and go from there.  Getting a new boss is almost the same as showing up at a new job, so act like it and you will be fine.
  2. Don’t make demands – Whatever your old boss promised you before he/she left, just forget it.  Don’t demand that your new boss follow up on whatever your old boss had promised you.  You will sound like you are difficult to manage.  Instead of making demands, use the meeting with your boss I mentioned in tip 4 above to ask about what you want, and what steps you need to take to get it.
  3. Don’t listen to rumors – Don’t waste your time listening to the rumor mill about your new boss, or what this change means for you.  You will just get more stressed out for no reason.  Follow the steps above and approach it with an open mind.  It will alleviate stress from uncertainty, and it will help you objectively assess your relationship with your new boss.
  4. Don’t expect your boss to adapt to you – Just because you were there first, doesn’t mean he/she will adapt to you. If this new boss is good, he/she will not try to change what is working. Ultimately, he/she will dictate how the work is delegated and gets done going forward.

Getting a new boss doesn’t have to be unnerving. It could be a good thing for you! Think of it as a clean slate, especially if the old boss and the new boss didn’t do any transition. You’ll have a chance to do over anything that didn’t work with your old boss. Have a positive attitude, follow the tips above, and you may find yourself enjoying your work even more with the new boss. Good luck!

Your comments: Do you agree with these tips?  Are there any tips I missed that you would do with a new boss?  Add your comments below and let’s have a discussion.

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

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