When a new boss comes in, you might feel some mixed emotions: bitterness, excitement, apprehension, and anticipation are all common. However, it is during such times of change that you need to draw on all your emotional intelligence to avoid negativity and stay focused on your professional goals and successes.
The reality is that, when a new boss arrives, there are winners and there are losers. Previous favorites often lose some esteem while overlooked team members get the chance to step out of the shadows and shine.
You can’t take the status quo for granted when a new boss arrives, so here are a few tips to help you be one of the winners:
1. Ask Questions
In your first one-on-one meeting with your boss, you want to get a good understanding of their values and expectations by asking the following questions:
- What do you expect from me over the next 3-6 months?
- How often do you like to be updated with progress?
- Do you prefer written reports or face-to-face updates?
- How often will we meet?
- What’s the best way to approach you with questions?
- How much power do I have to make decisions in your absence?
By asking these questions and carefully listening to your new boss’s responses, you will get a strong idea of your boss’s values. You can then use this information to make sure your performance and behaviors always align with your boss’s wants and needs.
2. Observe Your Boss’s Approach
In an ideal world, you’d have a meeting with your new boss on their first day at the job. In reality, it might take a few days, a week, or even longer to get that face time.
Even so, your boss will no doubt expect you to read their mind and treat them the way they expect to be treated. This is not as hard to do as it may sound. By observing your new boss in action, you’ll be able to get an idea of what makes them tick. So, keep a close eye on your boss – and keep observing them, even after you’ve had your one-on-one meeting.
3. Be Ready to Let Go of the Old and Embrace the New
The new boss is probably going to make a few changes. You may like some of them, but others may cause you some distress. There’s nothing wrong with raising some subtle and constructive criticisms of your boss’s new approach, but once it’s set in stone, it’s your job to forget the old days and fall in line.
4. Become a Valuable Advisor
Once you have established a reasonable rapport with your boss, you can take further steps to get yourself noticed. For example, you could act as a kind of “buddy” or tour guide. Your new boss is also doing some adjusting of their own. If you can help them get a handle on the company’s culture and processes, they’ll definitely appreciate it.
5. Score a Quick Win
If you can register a quick win with your boss early on, you will be more likely to make a strong and long-lasting positive impression on them.
Scoring that quick win is easier said than done, of course, but it’s still achievable. Find out what your boss’s pain points are, and then develop and propose a solution that could make immediate improvements in the area.
Thriving under a new boss is largely about fitting in. You have to accept that change has come, let go of the past, and adapt your attitude and approach to fit the new “regime.” There is little time for resistance. Adaptability is key if you want to be a winner in your new boss’s eyes.
About the Author
Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.
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