Accepting a New Boss

A major subtext of Shattered Glass, the film about a New Republic fabulist who made up or embellished stories, was the magazine staff’s unwillingness to accept a new editor after the firing of a beloved boss.

Don’t be that employee.

Just as lingering dissent over new leadership distracted that newsroom from its mission, refusing to accept a change in leadership can poison your workplace or taint your relationship with the new manager.

Pining for your old boss like a jilted lover is pointless. Chances are, he or she isn’t coming back. 

Below are tips to get the most out of your new boss, and vice versa:

Remember, bosses are people too.

Remember the nervous uncertainty you felt navigating the learning curve on your new job? Your new boss is no different. New managers undergo a psychological adjustment as his or her professional identity changes, says Linda A. Hill, author of Becoming a Manager: Mastery of a New Identity, in an interview in Harvard Business Review. Offer assistance in familiarizing your boss with the organization, workforce and city. Be helpful, but not obsequious. 

Embrace change.

New bosses are a fact of life; if you work anywhere long enough, you will experience one. They can bring new ideas, experiences and perspectives that benefit your organization by keeping it from becoming stagnant. You may have learned a lot from your old supervisor, but there’s no reason you can’t learn more from your new one.

Reboot and renew.

Your relationship with your old supervisor may have been problematic. A new boss offers a chance for a clean slate, free of past baggage. By demonstrating your skills, work ethic and loyalty, your new boss may become an ally. 

Refresh and reaffirm.

If you were a favorite of the old boss, a change at the top could cause anxiety. Instead, view this as an opportunity to stay sharp and ward off complacency by forcing you to test your skill set and re-examine your way of doing things. Proving your worth to a new boss will bolster your confidence. 

Cultivate the relationship.

Ask your boss what he or she expects of you. Ideally, your boss will return the favor. If not, convey what resources, personnel and guidance you need to perform in a way that enhances the organization. Set mutually agreed-upon goals. Offer suggestions, but don’t overstep your bounds. Discern his or her comfort zone, but your default should be utmost respect. Informality should be accepted if extended, but never assumed.

Learn leadership dynamics.

Bosses usually have a boss, and are subject to pressures from unseen forces. Maintain an awareness of organizational culture so that you can be responsive and supportive when needed. This knowledge will serve you when it’s your turn to lead.

Change can be exciting or painful, but it is necessary and inevitable. An organization that resists it risks shattering from internal and external pressures. Your new boss embodies forward movement and opportunity. Embracing change is your best opportunity for personal and professional advancement. 

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