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How to Handle a New Boss
With downsizing and “restructuring” becoming the buzzwords of 2008, there’s a very good possibility that, like the peeps in Washington, D.C., you’ll also be reporting to someone new. Transition isn’t always easy, especially when you were BFF with your old boss and the new one is, shall we say, difficult. Here, a few tips from Nicole Williams on dealing with the new head honcho (even if you are smarter than they are).
Assess the situation. What you expect from your workday is based on how you, your boss, and your co-workers usually interact. If you throw a new personality into the mix it can take some getting used to. Try to approach your new work environment as a blank slate. After all, since you have a new boss, it’s kind of like you have a brand-new job. Tread lightly for a bit, and try to get used to the change.
Don’t judge. Be careful not to pit the new boss against the old. Sure, the old boss would never have responded to your minor altercation with the accounting department the way your new boss did. But that’s okay. It’s time to grin and bear it, try not to take it too personally, and be energized by the change, not bogged down by it.
Be observant. Watch the way that the new boss interacts with your co-workers. Notice how she stares everyone else down with the same direct glare. Now do you feel less picked on by her stern manner? We thought so.
Follow her lead. Notice if your boss is a morning person or a night owl. Does she return e-mail right away or prefer to follow up verbally? Does she give criticism that is followed by praise or do you have to work hard to feel the love? Being aware of your new boss’ style will help you know when to approach her and how to behave when you do. It will also help you to be less surprised and defensive by how she responds to you.
Put yourself in her shoes. Do the empathetic thing and consider how hard it is to be the new boss. She wants to come across as a great leader who is firmly in control. But inside she’s probably shaking in her boots. Give her a few weeks to catch her breath and loosen up. After all, how likely is it that she really hates you? We bet time will improve the situation and that soon enough you’ll be singing each other’s praises. -Anne Zimmerman