There’s been a lot written about what to do when you change jobs and you are the new employee at a new company. What happens though, when your work situation changes without you being the catalyst for the change? There will be times during your career when your boss leaves and you are faced with the prospect of your life being turned upside down.
These changes are hard for people to deal with. There’s a comfort that comes from having a manager you’ve reported to for a significant amount of time. You grow accustomed to the way they work, think, and communicate. When she is suddenly gone, the things that have been routine are suddenly scrutinized. Mostly by you.
I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve had managers who moved on to bigger and better things. I’ve also been the manager who left a great team behind. As the latter, I saw the worst case scenario of a great team coming apart piece by piece after I left and it hurt. Them and me. We had worked hard to be the team we were.
4 Things to Do When You Get a New Manager
So the question is this:
What should you do when you know you are about to get a new manager?
Here’s a list of four things you can do to smooth that transition from the known to the unknown:
- Help your new manager feel welcomed. Coming into a company as a new employee is a stressful proposition for most people. You may not know anyone at the new organization and you have to learn the ropes pretty quickly if you want to feel like you are adding value. When you come in as a new manager–with an in tact team waiting for your arrival–this pressure doubles. It feels as though there are eyes watching your every move. Trying to figure out who you are, what you stand for, and how you will work with the new team. This is your opportunity to help the new manager feel at home in the group. Spend time getting to know her. Find out what she likes to do in her free time. Learn about her family and what it was that attracted her to your organization and team. The more quickly you can get the new manager talking with you and not at you, the more quickly you will feel like they are a part of your team.
- Ask questions. We tell our coaching clients when they start a new job with a company, the fastest way to become a highly valued employee is to ask questions. It shows that you are interested and more importantly, that you don’t think you have all the answers coming in the front door. The same principle applies here. Hopefully your new manager is asking questions of you, but you should also be asking questions of him. Find out what he values when it comes to communication. Is he the type of boss that likes the big picture or do you need to provide all the details behind a decision? How often does he want project status updates? What does he expect from you as an individual and from the team as a whole? That last question may take time to answer. If the new manager is good, he will take the time to learn what’s going on already before he tries to impose his will on the group.
- Deliver results. There’s a danger when a new leader comes on board for things to be placed in neutral until some direction comes down about what needs to happen. This is the worst thing that can happen as you are trying to build credibility with your new manager. If you are currently working on a project or initiative, keep working the project and show you can deliver results. If possible, now is the time to even sub-divide some of your tasks and milestones so that you can show something quickly. This answers one of the fundamental questions every new manager has when they sit in their new chair. Who are my go to people?
- Help the stragglers. In every group, there will be a handful of people who will resist the change until they realize everything is going to be OK. This is your opportunity to help them with the transition. Help them see the positive aspects of the new managerial change and what impact those will have on the work being done. Where possible, show the things that won’t change at all during the transition as there is a significant list of “business as usual” things that will live through any change.
In the end, it all boils down to the fact that the success of a new manager transition depends less on who the new person is coming into the job and more about how you react to the change. If you’ll just take the initiative to influence the change in positive way, it will be a pleasant experience.