Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Making an impression on new boss
R.C. Sharma

You have developed an excellent rapport and amicable working relationship with your present boss. You know him every inch. But one morning, you learn that your boss has been promoted/transferred or has resigned, and there is a brand new manager to occupy his chair.

Suddenly, your comfort zone is insecure. You are on the defensive. You feel unsettled, apprehensive that he will shatter your safe position and schedule.

However, since you have to work under the new manager, it will be in your own interest to start off with a positive attitude. Here is how you can pave a smooth path:

Roll with the punches

Predictability is non-existent in the corporate scenario; do not delude yourself that things will always be the same. Change is always on the anvil with a constant reshaping of roles. As the arrival of a new manager heralds adjustments, adopt a professional and flexible stance. Accept the change as a challenge rather than an obstacle. Prepare to adjust, to enable you to carry on without major obstacles.

Gain an edge

Find out the new manager’s working style, temperament, personality and idiosyncrasies and you will soon gain an edge over others.

According to a career services manager’s advice: "If there is any way you can find out information upfront, do it. Maybe someone in another part of the company or someone else who has worked for that manager can help."

Take the initiative

Take the initiative to reach out to the new boss early and establish constructive contacts.

Be proactive and fix a meeting to congratulate him and welcome him on board. Introduce yourself and amicably discuss expectations, goals, strategies, work hours, responsibilities, frequency of updates, level of autonomy or management changes.

Initiating candid and honest communication will give you an assessment about his disposition, propensity, priorities and weaknesses. Ally with him and show that you are interested in adding well-being.

A new manager is bound to be different, do not think that he will be a facsimile of the former boss. Forget the past, don’t make life difficult for him. Exercise discretion and avoid harking back with constant comparisons like: ‘He didn’t do it like this...’

Start with clean slate

Forget your strong allegiance to the old boss and prepare for the necessary psychological adjustments to the new environment. As career consultant and author Andrea Kay says: "You have to make a mind shift to prepare yourself to say, ‘This is a new person."

Perseverance pays

Do not expect an immediate rapport and try to be very friendly straight away. Take the time to build a harmonius relationship and wait for the right time for adjustment as you get to know each other. Try to eliminate the discrepancies and sort out your priorities with a positive outlook to forge a strong link.

Empathise with him

Remember that the new state of affairs would be discomfiting for the boss too and he needs to acclimatise as well. Empathise with his situation without sounding derogatory.

Try to learn about his needs and offer friendly assistance in explaining the intricate working without sounding like a Mr Know-All.

However, do not apprise him about practices, processes, norms et al unless the information is expressly solicited.

The new manager may either be a new recruit or one promoted from the ranks.

Do not take liberties with him or express resentment over a missed promotion if he is an ex-colleague.

Likewise, even if he is quite new, you shouldn’t ride roughshod over his ideas and techniques, criticise his decisions or question his competence.

Don’t compare

Disapproving comments like, ‘This will not solve the problem,’ ‘The approach is absolutely wrong’ or ‘We have tried it before’ are absolutely unacceptable. Learn to accept the status quo and respect his position.

Be supportive and enthusiastic, yet compliant. Talk out issues reasonably and clarify roles without challenging his authority.

Create trust and cooperate to iron out the differences, and you’ll soon find yourself enjoying the same rapport as you had with his predecessor.