New boss? 5 ways to adjust to a change in manager and keep your career on track

New boss? 5 ways to adjust to a change in manager and keep your career on track
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Getting used to new management can be tough, especially when you enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with your previous manager. Whether you wept when your boss left or you couldn't wait until someone new took over, a new boss means a big adjustment on everyone's part. 

You definitely want to be at the top of your game — because the new boss will immediately size up the talent pool: "The new boss is going to make people decisions relatively quickly," said Shawn Coyne, co-founder and managing director of The Coyne Partnership Inc. "We did a study on the average number of days it takes for a new manager to make a final determination on staff and it usually takes about 60 days to complete an evaluation."

That means early impressions count: especially in the first two months. So you need a fool-proof plan to ensure you get off on the right foot.

Don't worry, you can impress without too much stress. Here's a list of positive steps you can take to ensure you and the new boss hit it off.


1. Schedule a meeting to show good will.

Set aside some time for you to meet one-on-one with your new manager. "This definitely does not mean being a brown-noser, but you should let the new manager know you are trustworthy and are open to help," Coyne said. "Remember, your boss does not know what is in your heart and this is your opportunity to let the boss know you are supportive."

An early meeting also allows you to proactively help your boss get off to a strong start: "In most cases your manager will have multiple people underneath them and is learning new procedures and processes at the same time," Lei Han, career success mentor at Be My Career Coach, said.

"Ask how you can help, especially when it comes to accessing reports or showing the manager where the company houses various resources," Han said. "This opens the door for the manager to view you as a resource, which will ultimately build a relationship." That's called "managing up" and it's smart.

2. Leave your baggage at the door.

Old grudges or issues you had with other employees or projects should leave with your previous supervisor. "There may be several issues maybe you had with the way the old boss did things, procedures or other employees — now is not the time to rehash those issues," Coyne said. Turn over a new leaf!

Source: Giphy

This is also not the time to hold your new boss's feet to the fire on promises made by your previous manager. "Don't demand your new boss follow through on a promised promotion your previous boss made, especially during those early days," Han said. "So while your old boss may have promised you a promotion or a new title or more money, you need to respect the new boss and give that person time to ramp up. If you are a strong performer, be optimistic that over time your new boss will recognize your talent."

In other words, be patient. You'll need to earn that promotion with the new supervisor.

3. Assimilate to the boss's working style.

Identify the best way to communicate with your manager on a regular basis, even if differs from how you worked with your previous boss. This could mean putting up with the pesky "drop by" at your cubicle. 

Everyone works and communicates differently, which doesn't mean you have to compromise your values but instead adjust to a new style, Coyne said. "Be flexible to accommodate someone who perhaps like stopping by your cubicle to get updates," he said. "You may not love this, but you will need to practice patience and flexibility. Also, get used to answering your phone and checking emails on a regular basis to figure out what works best with the new boss."

Also, don't expect your boss to adapt to you, fit into the new boss's communication style, Han explained. "Try not to get offended or frustrated if the new boss asks for more reports or updates than what you are used to, because the new boss is probably trying to gage what you can handle and your style, rather than trying to micromanage you," she added.

4. Accept and embrace change.

There's a reason why a new manager was brought into the workplace and the sooner you embrace the reason why, the faster you can get back to business. "Unless the boss left for another position, there is a reason why your manager was replaced or quit," Coyne said. "Perhaps senior management determined whatever your boss was doing wasn't working and sought a better way for the greater good of the company."

Try to see that as a positive, and examine the company beyond your role to see how a new manager could take the company in a positive or stronger direction, Coyne added. If you can look at the change from a "bigger picture" standpoint, it could help you assimilate faster. 


5. Give the relationship a chance to grow.

Change is challenging and a knee jerk reaction to flee if you feel discomfort is normal, Coyne said. Try to resist the urge to run. 

"Give the relationship a chance, and make sure you are giving it your best effort during those initial 60 days," he said. "If you are giving it all you have, work through those first 60 days to give the relationship a good chance to develop." But note — you can quit if you really can't find a fit.


"Sometimes workers feel that they have to stay no matter what happens," Coyne said. "If, despite your best effort, you hate working for the new boss, you can leave. Too often we get comfortable in a job and think looking for a new job is worse than working for someone you don't like. Rather than being miserable, look at your options and then make a decision. But always give it your best effort before getting to that point."

Remember, you are a free agent. If you need to leave to find something you love more, power to you.

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