So You Just Got a New Boss

By Merrick Rosenberg

Your manager just left and you now face the prospect of building a positive relationship with your new boss. You experience a range of emotions from happy, nervous, sad, anxious, and hopeful. No matter what kind of relationship you had with your previous manager, you now have the opportunity for a fresh start.

We all know that you only get one chance to create a first impression and therefore, his or her first few weeks are crucial. It’s more difficult to change a perception than a behavior, so managing initial perceptions will help guide your future success.

Guidelines to help you hit the ground running with your new boss:

Jumpstart the relationship

1. Consider this a fresh start. Even if you had performance challenges that appeared on previous evaluations, your new manager will develop a perception of you based upon your behavior. Take this opportunity to implement the action plans on your performance appraisal.
2. Take responsibility for creating a good relationship with them. Don’t expect them to adapt to your needs or to understand your style because your previous manager did so. Pay attention to what makes them tick and what pushes their buttons and act accordingly. You may even wish to directly ask your new manager to describe his or her style and desired work environment…and be prepared to describe yours.
3. Interact early and often. Don’t wait for them to approach you. Find every opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to make them an integral part of the team. Even though they may be the manager, take proactive steps to make them feel welcome.

Engage your manager in conversation

1. Ask your manager to define his or her priorities and expectations. Your new manager’s priorities and expectations may not be the same as your previous manager. It’s easier to meet expectations when we know they are, so make sure you understand what your new manager wants to achieve.
2. Ask your manager to describe his or her most effective direct report. This will tell you how your manager defines “superstar” performance and sets the bar for your “superstar” status.
3. Continually check in to find out how you are measuring up to their expectations. Just because you met your previous manager’s expectations, doesn’t mean that your new manager is satisfied, even if you are exhibiting the same behaviors. Many managers don’t provide ongoing performance feedback, so if you don’t know where you stand, find out.
4. Talk to your new manager about communication. Do they prefer face-to-face interaction or writing communication? How often do they want to meet? How much information do they want from you? How often do they want project updates? If they don’t tell you and you don’t ask, you’re just guessing.
5. Tell your new manager what you need to be successful. You might just get what you need if you ask.

Demonstrate leadership

1. Get some quick wins to demonstrate your competence. People remember what you do first, so start off on the right foot.
2.Don’t immediately hit your new manager with all of your problems. Give them time to acclimate, but make sure that the new manager is aware of your challenges. You may have told your former manager that a deadline will not be achieved, but your new manager won’t know this unless you tell them.
3. Be clear on your level of empowerment and decision-making authority. You don’t want to overstep your bounds, but at the same time, you want to take the authority that you have been given. Can you make decisions and act or does your manager want to be informed first? Confirm your authority so you don’t make any mistakes.
4. Speak only in positive terms about your former manager. Take your mothers advice when she told you, “If you have nothing to nice say, don’t say anything at all.” Trashing your former boss makes you look bad and it can make them wonder how you talk about them when they are not around.

Take ownership of your success

When your new manager comes onboard, if you take personal responsibility for creating a positive and successful relationship with him her, it is more likely to be a time of happiness and hope, rather than fear and despair.