October 8, 2015

4 Tips to Help You Adjust to a New Boss

TieAccording to Gallup, about 50 percent of adults have left jobs to get away from a bad manager. I am willing to bet that a fair number of these departures were made by people who had recently seen new bosses enter their workplaces.

That’s because there can be a lot of adjustment issues when a new manager or leader arrives on the scene. The new boss isn’t always like the old one, and this can cause some tense situations and lead employees to exit the company.

But leaving isn’t the only answer when a new boss comes along. To those of you who are having trouble adjusting to a new manager, I offer these tips:

1. See It as a Fresh Start

Treat the new boss as an opportunity to start anew. If your relationship with the outgoing manager wasn’t great, us this chance to wipe the slate clean. Try to build a better relationship with your boss this time around. Doing so can help you stay more engaged and motivated at work.

2. Let Go of the Past

If you held a favorable position with the former boss, change can be especially hard to accept. You may lose a lot of the power, status, and respect that you accumulated under the old regime. You can’t dwell on the past, though. What’s done is done. It’s time to move forward.

In practice, this means letting go of the old way of doing things and quickly embracing the new way put in place by the new boss. You don’t have to bend to your new manager’s every whim, but you do need to know when the time is right to let the past go.

3. Make a Strong First Impression

ThumbsIf two people take an instant liking to each other, their relationship is more likely to grow stronger over time. First impressions are critical with your new boss. If you start off on the right foot, there’s a good chance you and your boss will be able to build an excellent relationship with one another.

What might a strong first impression look like? Here are a few things you can do to win your new boss over:

1. Smarten up your physical appearance.
2. Take the time to understand your new manager’s expectations and preferred ways of working.
3. Make it a priority to establish performance and behavioral goals with your new manager as soon as possible; then, be sure to deliver on those goals.
5. Ask your boss if you can provide any assistance to make their transition easier and/or make proactive suggestions about ways in which you might be able to help smooth the changeover.

4. Schedule Regular Check-Ins

This won’t be entirely under your control, because you can only meet with your boss when they agree to it. But, in the early days of the new boss’s tenure, it’s a good idea to try to over-communicate as much as possible. You want to avoid making any assumptions about the boss’s goals and preferences until you have a more reliable understanding of who the boss is.

As you spend more time communicating and meeting with the boss, you’ll get a better feel for what they want and how they want it. Moreover, you’ll eventually know the boss well enough that you can deliver what they want before they even ask. This sort of initiative will make you a workplace superstar in no time.


HandsUltimately, adjusting to a new boss is all about “fitting in” to the new environment the boss brings along. This doesn’t mean you have be passive. By all means, you can raise objections to changes you find particularly troubling — just make sure you do so respectfully, and that you don’t object to too much all at once. Also, you need to be prepared to move on if your objection is overruled.

Of course, if you can’t or don’t want to let go of the past, you have a choice: stay and be resentful, or move on and find a more satisfying workplace.

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Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.