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.
Toni Bowers is the former 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.