Working Transitions

all change what to do when you have a new boss

In the past fortnight we’ve had a new cabinet put in place by new Prime Minister Theresa May, Sam Allardyce has been named as the manager of the England football team and the takeover of ARM holdings by SoftBank has been confirmed. Whether the change has already taken place, is in the process of doing so, or will do in the future, there are many people who are facing the prospect of working with a new boss.

Of course in business this is not an unusual event, but, how you behave and approach the situation is likely to have an impact on your career in the short term and ultimately the potential to affect it in the long term.

The vacancy for the role that your new manager now occupies could have come about for any number of reasons. You may be happy about the change, but it’s only human to feel slightly apprehensive. You will have been familiar with your previous boss; in many ways you would have been part of ‘their’ team. You may have respected and admired them. In some cases you may be disappointed by their departure and even resentful towards your employer (especially if your boss was moved on by them). Whatever you are feeling, you can’t change the fact that you have a new boss so it’s important to stop, take a deep breath and think about your career and just how you can work effectively with your new boss.

1) Underpin the new relationship

Despite being “the boss” the new leader may feel slightly nervous and unsure during their first few weeks. Make them feel that they are welcome and respected. Treat your new boss with the regard you would any other new colleague. This doesn’t mean going overboard, ‘sucking up’, or seizing the opportunity to take on parts of their job (which may antagonise), it just means being responsive to their questions or requests and behaving in a courteous and considerate way.

2) Keep a positive outlook

In order to succeed you need to feel optimistic about the future with your new boss.  Whatever your feelings about them or how the role came about, if you choose to be negative, it will end up affecting your behaviour or attitude – which will be apparent to your new boss.  Therefore, whatever has gone on in the past, it’s vital to start thinking positively and confidently about the future.

3) Watch your verbal signals

You should also behave in a way which demonstrates that you are optimistic. This means looking for the positives in all situations and having a ‘can do’ approach.  If you are asked a question by your boss and your answer begins it with “The problem is…..”, “We can’t do that because…” then you are unlikely to impress. New bosses invariable want to make changes and so welcome solutions orientated people who help them to achieve their early goals.

4) Be proactive

Actively approach your new manager and reinforce that you want to be part of their team and that you are committed to this new journey. Obviously you need to pick your moment, doing it as they arrive through the door may look a tad over-eager! Of course words are no good alone, you must to follow it up with action that help your boss make some quick wins.

5) Support their induction

Whilst your new manager may well have a company induction and be knowledgeable about many things, it will undoubtedly help them (and you) if you put forward a realistic and truthful review of your own and your team/departments current status, in order to help them learn. If there are areas that need improvement, highlight these together with what you are doing about this and where you need support from your new boss.

6) Be aware of expectations

The old expectations that your previous boss had are now likely to change. It is important you understand what your new manager believes are priorities and how they want you to work. Be open to the fact that they may want you to change. It is sensible to establish this early on and if you are unsure, the response to a simple question “what do you need from me?” can provide clarity.

7) Make adjustments

You will need to modify to your new managers style of working very quickly. If you are lucky it may only be slightly different than previously but it is also possible that it could be a significant shift. You need your boss to see that you are capable, so don’t fight this, embrace it and do so quickly – your boss will be looking to see who is open to change. If you are struggling to adjust, look for support from your manager and ask them to help you, whilst reiterating your commitment.

8) Demonstrate results

The past, what you did before, is of little consequence. Of course there are people in the business that remember your past achievements but as far as your new boss is concerned, this is day 1. It is important therefore that you try to deliver some immediate results. Look for the ‘low hanging fruit’ and make sure that it is something your boss sees as a result too.

9) Don’t encroach

Whilst there is often a temptation, through either goodwill or because people are trying to help the new boss, you should avoid taking on jobs that are part of your boss’ remit. Do your job well, produce the required results and you will be noticed. Start creeping into the bosses area and you risk getting off on the wrong foot.

10) First impressions count

You never get a second chance to make a first impression!. How you act and behave in the first few days and weeks of your boss’ tenure will create an impression that will be hard to shake. Treat it as you would if roles were reversed and you were the new boss. This means thinking about appearance (both physical and actions), communication and application. Be seen, but be seen for the right reasons.

No matter what level you are working at, you will be going through a similar transition to that of Jeremy Hunt, Wayne Rooney and senior management at ARM holdings. They all have, or will be having, a new boss whilst they remain doing the same job. If this change is happening to you, then it’s important to embrace the change and impress your new boss. If you approach it in the right way, working with a new boss can be a positive experience which enhances your career journey and leads to increased success and opportunity.


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Working Transitions
28 July 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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