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How to Adjust to a New Boss

By Maurie Backman - Feb 7, 2018 at 10:03AM

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Change isn't always easy. Here's how to cope when a new manager takes over.

If you happen to have a great boss, then you're probably aware of just how lucky you are. But what happens when that terrific manager of yours gets promoted or moves on to a new opportunity? Suddenly, you'll have no choice but to start reporting to a new boss, and one whose management style may be worlds different from what you're used to.

Adjusting to a new boss isn't always easy, and losing a terrific leader and mentor can constitute a serious blow. But since your only option is to roll with the punches, you might as well work on getting used to your new circumstances. Here's how to handle that transition.

Female professional shaking hands with male professional while a second male professional looks on


1. Give your boss time to get up to speed

Even if your new boss comes from within the company, there's a good chance he or she will have some learning to do to take over your previous manager's duties. Therefore, don't expect things to run perfectly smoothly from the get-go. During those first few weeks or months, you might spend several hours reviewing processes with your new boss, and, yes, clocking in extra time to help bring him or her up to speed. Don't complain about it, and try not to let it get to you. Chances are, once your new boss gets into the swing of things, your team will start to function more efficiently, and you'll have an easier time managing your own workload.

2. Stake your claim to key projects and tasks

Your new boss might come in knowing very little about which members of your team are responsible for doing what. So if you've historically handled certain assignments in the past, and you want things to stay that way, make it clear that specific tasks are your territory. Don't convey this information defensively, though. Rather, ask your new boss for a quick sit-down and offer to walk him or her through the key projects you tend to manage. Better yet, offer up an overview of those projects so your manager gets a better sense of how you spend your days.

3. Learn where your boss' priorities lie

It's natural for different managers to have different agendas, so if you want a strong working relationship with your new boss, find out what goals he or she is looking to prioritize early on. Then, be that person to help achieve those objectives. This is important for two reasons. First, it'll show your boss that you're in his or her corner, but second, it'll help buy you a bit of job security in the face of change. After all, if you become an integral member of the team in your manager's eyes, he or she is more likely to want to keep you around.

4. Give yourself time to feel good about the change

Whether in your personal life or at the office, change can be a difficult pill to swallow. So give yourself time to adjust to that change, all the while reminding yourself that the best may be yet to come. It might take six months for you to wake up one day and realize that your new boss has managed to improve efficiencies, foster better team collaboration, and put you in a position where your efforts are more likely to be recognized by senior management. But don't get discouraged if those positives don't emerge for several months' time. Rather, keep plugging away, and do your best to focus on the good parts of your job in the interim.

Though getting a new boss can sometimes be an unwelcome change, it doesn't have to constitute a negative turn in your career. Focus on being helpful and patient, and with any luck, things will end up working out for the best.

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