Even if you’ve been working your current job for years, the arrival of a new boss always has the potential to shake things up. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of counterproductive thought when someone new steps up, especially if you felt especially close to your new boss’s predecessor. However, it’s better to think of a new supervisor’s start date as a fresh beginning and a strong opportunity to set the tone for your relationship with someone who will wield significant influence on your professional experience.
To get yourself into the best possible mindset for this shift, we present 6 tried and true ways to prep for a new leader, all recommended by professional women.
1. Make sure that your credentials are up-to-date on LinkedIn (and your website).
If you’re happily employed, letting your LinkedIn profile become stale is a common occurrence. But when a new boss enters the picture, there’s a good chance that she’ll pull up your profile. Donna Svei, who provides resume consulting at AvidCareerist, advises making sure your digital footprint accurately reflects your career accomplishments.
“Update both your resume and LinkedIn profile, [as] your new boss will likely look at one or both of these items to familiarize themselves with you,” she told Fairygodboss.
2. Take the initiative to set up a meet-and-greet for your new boss and your team.
Establishing an immediate reputation for proactivity definitely helps you build a strong relationship with a new supervisor. If you have the seniority to suggest a meet-and-greet to familiarize your new boss with her team, that’s a great way to start. And a meet and greet is a great way to give everyone (including your new boss) the opportunity to share their accomplishments and their upcoming challenges.
Retail consultant Andrea Wasserman of Captain Customer shared the benefits of this strategy on a women-in-the-workplace message board:
“You’ll get to know him/her through the reaction and interactions, the effort to highlight your team should reflect positively on you, your team will appreciate it, and you’ll get to highlight your collective work.”
“[Ask your boss,] ‘What is your biggest goal this year? What are the obstacles to achieving that goal?’ Then use that information to ensure the results you are delivering are helping him or her achieve that goal and overcome those obstacles.”
3. Tailor your processes to fit your new boss's needs.
After you have your sit-down meeting with your new boss, talk through her priorities and get a sense of her workflow, a smart next move is looking at your day-to-day processes and making adjustments. This will help her meet her goals, and ensure your pristine reputation. Management coach Nicole Littmann agrees that this tactic is mutually beneficial.
“As a management coach, I advise clients to ensure that they understand and appreciate their new boss' priorities," she said. "Then, you can align the outcomes of your work to their priorities."
However, she has a warning. This may take time.
"This might not be as easy as it sounds. Your boss's priorities might not necessarily be the stated priorities of the team or department. You'll need time to nurture that relationship and identify those priorities.”
4. Clearly communicate your needs to your new boss.
A positive relationship between a boss and her employees is a two-way street. Therefore, it’s just as crucial to make your boss aware of your needs as vice versa. Executive coach Elena Cafasso has some very pertinent tips for this issue:
“My main piece of advice is to realize that you can and should proactively design how you and your new boss will work together," she shared. "Ask her how often she’d like to meet with you for a status update. Ask him how he prefers to be communicated with – email or voicemail or in person."
However, remember your needs are important too.
"Remember to ask for what you need as well," she continued. "For instance, do you need to work from home or leave early on Wednesdays due to a commitment at your child’s school once a month? What resources, training, and assistance do you need to be successful in your role?”
5. Approach the onboarding of your boss from their perspective.
When a new supervisor joins an existing team, an “us versus them” mentality can easily develop. However, that’s ultimately counterproductive, and won’t do anything to ease the challenge of adjusting to new leadership. Executive coach Debra Benton puts it like this:
“If you have a new boss, YOU are the one with the new job. Any onboarding process that you would do if you went to a new company [now needs to happen with] your current company and new boss.”
Seeing this event as an opportunity to begin anew frees you from judgmental attitudes that can hinder your own personal growth, and it can make you more receptive to useful guidance from your new boss. Jennifer Roquemore, the co-founder of Resume Writing Services, advises some mental preparation for new rounds of evaluation:
“Getting a new boss often means having to prove yourself once again," she said. "Be prepared to explain your role within the organization as well as what you've accomplished during your time working at the company. By having talking points ready to go, you'll set yourself up to make a great first impression for your new boss.”
6. Avoid comparing your new boss to her predecessor.
Welcoming a new boss when you had a strong relationship with her predecessor isn’t an easy feat, and emotional attachments can cloud an already-complicated situation. But the ability to separate your boss’s strengths and weaknesses from those of your former boss will give you a leg-up in terms of adjusting to the new regime. Career strategist Carlota Zimmerman offered this advice:
“Instead of [unfavorably] comparing [your new boss] to her predecessor, take her seriously... If you want to ensure your longevity and mobility at your company, put the past in the past and demonstrate that you’re a committed, supportive and emphatic employee by letting a new boss be herself.