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Same old job, but a new boss

Coach's Corner--May 25, 2009

The Client
Name: Nadine
Age: 49
Title: Manager, Member services
Industry: Health insurance
Issue: Getting a new boss
I still have my job—sort of.  Because I have a new boss, it feels new.  With all of the reorganizing that’s happened in my company, I’m losing my bearings.  I had relied on the long time relationship I had with my manager, and wonder how I can get re-established. 

Stay calm, focus on your work, and take action to build a relationship with your new boss.

The inner game
Steady yourself.  Notice everything that’s going right.  You still have a job and you have experience with your department’s processes and accountabilities that you can share.  That’ll be very valuable to your new boss. 

Face your fears.  Change often causes fears to arise.  What are you afraid may happen?  Perhaps you’re concerned that you and your new boss may not get along, that she’ll think your work falls short, or that your styles may clash.  Maybe you’re wondering if more changes are coming.  Dwelling on your fears can unintentionally create the very outcomes you’re concerned about.  Try taking a realistic look at how likely they are and consider ways to avert them.

Accept your losses.  You’ve lost an important relationship that has sustained you over time.  Take time to feel sad that you and your former boss are no longer working together.  It’s unrealistic to think that it doesn’t matter to you, so acknowledge your feelings in order to move on.

Know what you want.  Get specific about the working relationship you’d like to create, defining a vision statement for your work environment.  Use this to keep yourself on track with your new boss.

The outer game
Be proactive.  Be welcoming without being overbearing.  Put yourself in her shoes and help her adjust.  Request a meeting to learn about her management style.  Find out what she prefers in terms of status reports, providing work direction, and handling of day-to-day issues.  Be ready to tell her more about yourself so that she’ll be able to work effectively with you, too.

Be flexible.  Your team’s long-standing patterns will probably change somewhat, both in terms of your processes and the team’s internal dynamics.  This can be a refreshing opportunity to find new and better ways to do things, drawing from her experiences.  Be open.  Shutting down and resisting change will only damage your new relationship. 

Ask.  Change presents opportunities for everyone, so if there’s something you’d like to try, this may be the time to ask.  If you’d like to take on additional responsibilities, learn new skills, or develop new processes, let your new manager know.  Taking the initiative will help your entire group.  Just be careful not to overwhelm her too quickly; asking will be more effective once a base of trust has developed.  

Offer solutions.  When you bring her a problem, also bring solutions for her to consider.  This will help her learn, and will help you get the direction you need.  Watch out for any tendency to talk about how the old boss did things, though.  That likely would not be well-received.

The last word
Enter your new working relationship with a spirit of partnership.  It’ll help your new boss, and will get you off on the right foot.

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted May 25, 2009
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