When it comes to a job search, you’re not necessarily the only one looking to make a big move. Your bosses may also be keeping their options open, and if they find another job opportunity, you may find yourself adjusting to a new supervisor. Throughout my career, I’ve watched editors, managers, directors, VPs, and CEOs come and go, creating entirely different work environments in the process. How you adapt to these changes will determine your future at a company and in your profession.
ADVANCE, a publication that produces career advice articles, recently spoke to me about this change in dynamic for a story, titled Adjusting to a New Boss. But I have more to say on the topic in addition to what I included in that article. Here are several tips to follow when a new boss shakes things up and pushes you outside your comfort zone:
1. Don’t Prejudge.
You may have loved your previous supervisor and think that no one could ever replace him or her, but it doesn’t mean your new boss is going to be horrible. People tend to fear new people telling them what to do, but if you don’t prejudge a person before giving them a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised. You may even like your new boss more than your old boss.
2. Get to Know Your New Boss.
It is important to introduce yourself to a new boss for a variety of reasons. First, it offers you an opportunity to get to know them and learn more about their expectations of you during the transition. Second, it allows the new boss to pick your brain and learn more about how the company has approached different job-related matters. By setting up a meeting that allows you to help each other understand the different nuances of the job going forward, you are developing a professional relationship that could benefit you in the future. Similar to the blog I wrote about managing up, meeting with your new boss allows you to anticipate that person’s needs before they need them, therefore making you an invaluable resource as they adapt to their role.
3. Stop Looking Back.
For whatever reason, you have a new boss, and that means a new personality to accommodate. Even if the new boss shares a similar vision for the company as your previous supervisor, their strategy for reaching goals may differ, and it’s up to you to adjust. They are the boss; you’re just an employee. Never utter the phrase, “That’s not how we used to do it.” And unless they ask, never say, “We used to…” The past is the past. And a new boss means that you need to start looking at the present and future. Remember this: when you look back, you can’t move forward.
4. Don’t Take Anything Personally Until You Should.
Remember your first day at the office? You were bright eyed and eager to please. You wanted to change the world on your first day. Now put yourself in your new boss’s shoes. That person is just as nervous, even more so having to step into a new role of authority and replacing someone the office may or may not have respected. They are expected to lead a team from their very first day. If their nerves get the better of them, they may say something about your work that you could find offensive. Let it slide. Give them the benefit of the doubt. However, don’t be afraid to address it later. Take a moment to meet with your new boss and ask them to clarify their earlier comments, in hopes of meeting their expectations. Making this effort should earn your supervisor’s respect. If not…
5. Start looking for a New Job.
Sometimes a new pairing just doesn’t work out. You may have worked better with your previous boss and just don’t jive well with the new supervisor. Not everyone gets along. This happens often in situations where a new boss is brought in and inherits a team they had no input in hiring. They may not want to get along with you because they have a long-term plan of hiring someone new. If you just don’t click with your new boss, have personality clashes, or begin to feel unwanted, you should probably start looking for another job. However, you should do your best to show that you are a team player while conducting your job search. Never burn a bridge, and don’t create an adversary as you look to leave. It’s not professional, but more importantly, it could damage your reputation as you move through your career.
6. Stay in Touch.
If you choose to leave, don’t let the bitterness over your departure get in the way. Use your remaining days to help prepare staff for your departure. Create a document that lists all your tasks, passwords, and processes to make it easier for your replacement to adjust. Leave in a way that earns the respect of your peers, and check in from time to time to wish people a happy holiday… or just to connect. In a lot of cases, it takes time to connect. You may not have clicked on the job, but building a relationship outside the office may help you in your future, should you want to go back to your previous company or should you need a contact to help you land a job somewhere else.