IT Employment

What to do when you get a new boss at your current company

Many employees find themselves reporting to a different boss while employed at the same company. What's the best way to handle this situation?

One of the most disconcerting situations for an employee to deal with is getting a new boss. Whether you loved or hated the last one, there is some uncertainty about how to get off on the right foot. You may have had a great relationship with your former boss or the relationship may have been strained. Either way, this is a new, blank slate and it's up to you to make the best of it.

I once worked at a company that got a new CEO and there was practically a stampede of employees trying to make a good impression on him. That's what NOT to do. So how should mature, non-weasley people behave when they have a new boss?

1. Let go of any lingering resentments if you feel you or a colleague should have had the new boss's job instead. It's difficult, but let that go. Going into a new work relationship with that kind of baggage won't do anyone any good.

2. Don't present yourself as the expert on all things. You might think you're getting a kick-start on making yourself invaluable to the new boss, but just give the guy some breathing room. If the new boss has questions, he'll ask. It's okay to volunteer to take care of some small tasks while he's getting his sea legs, but don't try to influence any of the bigger initiatives he's just learning about.

3. Try to refrain from apple-polishing/brown-nosing/boot-licking/favor-currying. Hold off for a while before you besiege the new boss. If you're good at your job, the new boss will find out. You'd be surprised what she probably already knows about you.

In a perfect world, the one that exists solely between my ears, excessive brown-nosing would just flat out not work. But, of course, we all know that there are people out there who eat that kind of false adulation up, those who can convince themselves that employee fawning is more of a recognition of their sparkling intelligence and business savvy rather than an awareness of their ability to hire, fire, and demote.

If your new boss is shrewd, the initial fawning behavior will send up a red flag. Over-eager people have an agenda and a savvy boss will know it right off.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

23 comments
wlportwashington
wlportwashington

We recently hired a new exec. They made him my boss of all things. He saw how to setup a network at his last job so now he is an expert in I.T. His training is in accounting only. So since he is an expert, I am expected to kiss his booty and do what ever he says. He gets nasty with people and "cannot get along with the other children in the sand box." Using his analogy, he saw how a LAN is setup and than made him an I.T. expert...OK, I was a litigant in a law suit several years back, I guess that makes me an attorney...I saw on TV a medical show on heart transplants, I guess that make me a surgeon. Problem today, at least in my firm, they are hiring these so called experts to run things and they are totaly clueless.

Tink!
Tink!

and it was at my first full-time job. After nearly 2 years of working there my boss (whom I liked a lot) left the company. The new boss was a "by-the-book" gal which was fine. We got along well enough until I lost my transportation due to an accident. My old boss I'm sure would have offered some assistance. The new lady offered nothing and ultimately I was terminated when I couldn't get to work after a couple of weeks.

computermark1
computermark1

And when you get a new boss who feels his charge is " JUST DO IT MY WAY " . No matter what prior systems, protocols..etc What do you do then ?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Just got a new boss. Working out very well, so far. The direction from on high is now consistent with company policy. That's a start.

Ron K.
Ron K.

New boss? Update resume and prepare to move on. It's only been on very rare occasions when I noticed the work environment improve. What's even worse is new acquisitions. YMMV but I've yet to see a new owner not drive the business right into the ground.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Toni Bowers says of the typical new boss, "You'd be surprised what she probably already knows about you." If there was anything that would establish a bad relationship with my typical new boss, it would be referring to him as "she." Of the 25 employee and contract bosses I've had, only two were female. An engineering associate named the paucity of women in our mutual field (and in IT, too), "The Tragedy of Engineering." We can bemoan the linguistic inequity of our language that requires generic persons to take male pronouns, and that a reference to a boss with the genderless "it" would be insulting at best. So how does this relate to the article's main points, rather than simply assuaging my natural fussiness as a tech writer? With a new boss, it's often an opportunity to present ideas that the old boss might have previously dismissed because of trivial reasons or through personal idiosyncrasy. Or maybe the old boss was a jerk. But be aware that the old way of doing things may have had reasons that aren't obvious. Or your excellent ideas, with or without your personal preconceptions, may not match with the new boss, corporate culture, or even the real-world situation. Assess your reasons and motivations carefully, give your ideas a little while to percolate, and if they still seem worthy, present them.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

Having been with my present employer for over 35 years, it really isn't so much what I don't do but how best to advise the NEW GUY on what he needs to do. It has become a routine process for new managers to have a one on one with each long term employee and that they are aware of why those certain employees have been there so long. Actually, our most profitable period was during year when we had no manager and the incoming prospects are made aware that it can and will be done again of the situation warrants.

paa78in
paa78in

quite sensible! although one can observe the new boss work style but avoid concluding his type until; its evident..

SeenItBefore
SeenItBefore

boy, are you naive. Unfortunately, you didn't do anything to address that they are going to have their own axe to grind trying to impress the people that hired them, namely by firing people or completely tearing apart every process to "make it their process". You didn't address if the person came from a different part of the company where they might have an axe to grind with the person who was the old manager. When if ever have you had to deal with the upheaval of a new manager. I have dealt with it a number of times and it is one of those situations where you know sooner or later, you're likely to get screwed.

sboverie
sboverie

Good advice for most situations when the boss changes. The expression "A new broom sweeps clean" as applied to a new boss is that sometimes the new boss will purge some people in his department. Sometimes it is to weed out the under performers and other times it is to make room for more new people the new boss wants to bring with them. The rest of the advice to be professional and let your work speak for itself is good. Heirarchy changes are also a good time to re-evaluate your position and future goals.

jimnorcal
jimnorcal

You may be able to write a best selling book on the rare success of your company's situation. :)

harryolden
harryolden

I have found out that If you know more than the Boss and speak your mind and give opinions thy dont like you, also new bosses seem to hone in on me and ask who is who in the company and it makes it worse if you know more than them. Now I give up,do my work and look after my self and say bugger the boss do it your self I know nothing.

rbogar
rbogar

In nature, when a male lion takes over leadership of a pride, the first thing he does is kill the offspring of the old leader. Expect the same for projects spawned and people hired by the old boss.

jimnorcal
jimnorcal

Good point from Seenitbefore (as their pseudonym is obviously self telling in its own way). I have encountered a small bit of this kind of situation myself and I do know from experience that things typically don't bode well for at least 50% of the underlings. One of my best friends who has been in hotel management for decades told me that typically, one of the first things a new boss will do is get rid of the old staff and get a new staff that suits their specific requirements. This cleaning house also serves the purprose of removing any hard feelings towards the new boss before they can cause serious problems later down the road. I do know that whenever I'm in a situation where a new boss comes in (or I know of one coming in sometime in the future), the first thing I do is polish up the resume and start looking because more often that not the clock is now counting down and there's not much you can do to stop. The best thing you can do is get out while your work history is still unscathed before they begin the railroading process (the process in which they look for any reason at all to get rid of employees, even if they have to make things up and make them stick without true merit).

kenr
kenr

There are two reasons for the "new broom" behaviour. 1) They want to make their mark in the organisation they've just joined; and 2) They want to bring in useful people they trust. Have a look at the "things you know need to be done" and pick one that has visibility (necessary for point 1) and benefit (necessary for point 2). If you have direct access to the boss, present this as an initiative you've been trying, unsuccessfully, to get implemented (but make sure that's a true statement). If you don't, ask someone who does have access whether they think the new boss would be interested in hearing about this initiative. Let them run with it. The boss may not know it comes from you, but the person you spoke will (and they may be the next "new boss") If you find a way to make a new boss look good, while genuinely improving things you'll fall into the "useful people" category. My $0.02 worth

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If so, he's already familiar with policies and procedures.

bluesnake
bluesnake

This is a common scenario with bosses especially in the public sector. If you are open with ideas, seek communucation and converstations about projects, question things (rather than doing them the robot way) and discuss project matters - simply said that your new boss won't like you. I am the type of person who is not afraid of learning and catching up with technology.Some people feel that this is a threat. I believe that if one is afraid of speaking up own thoughts, one ends up pretending s/he knows nothing at all and the learning curve starts to flatten out. What do you think?

SirWizard
SirWizard

I've experienced several instances where a new boss drags along his old underlings from other companies, sometimes good, usually bad. At my previous position at a small company, a new CEO brought a young favorite in to manage marketing. He quickly forced an absurd/false corporate tag line, needless logo re-coloring, and many pointless modifications and complications. He was as pleasant as a toothache, and his ceaseless loud country & western singing (we were in nearby cubicles!), along with his abrasive shouting at anyone who politely asked for some quiet for the office environment, endeared him to no one, except the CEO. After approximately six months, that CEO left, and his golden boy, bereft of all his political strength, left the next day, ostensibly of coincidental reasons.

rich95134
rich95134

Yes, we need a column telling new managers what not to do!!!! We got a new boss a couple years ago. He came as a "shining star" (a developer, not a manager) from a group whose products were primarily software based. Our product involves a number of very sophisticated, large-scale ASICs. Unfortunately, the extent of his hardware expertise stops at the ON/OFF switch, a point he repeatedly drives home by his incessant questioning and micro-managing. Further exacerbating the situation is his "Chicken Little" syndrome-- every time anyone else in management asks him a simple question on an issue it becomes the new priority of the minute! To say I've been unhappy is like saying water is wet. I've been biding my time while the industry recovered from the economic mess. I've now received offers from elsewhere within the company as well as competitors. He will not be my boss much longer!

megabaum
megabaum

Agreed, ... if one is afraid of expressing their ideas and thoughts, ultimately it's easier and safer to be quiet or pretend s/he knows nothing. The motivation , training and learning opportunities go out the window.

jimnorcal
jimnorcal

Now that's a story. Your company must have been small because I can't imagine that CEO working at a large corporation ... at least, not for very long, and most likely not in the top position. His marketing star probably followed him to the next company.

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