The pandemic led many people to change jobs, get promoted or otherwise been assigned a new boss. Regardless, if this was the case for you, it’s important to quickly get aligned and make the most of the opportunity with this new relationship.
Perhaps what’s most important with a new boss is to be proactive in understanding their perspective, how they like to communicate and how you can be successful with them. As quickly as possible, strive to establish trust and build rapport. Don’t simply allow for the work to speak for itself, but instead begin building a solid reputation of who you are, what you’ve accomplished and what you’re capable of doing.
Remote work certainly altered how we interact with a new boss, but if you are returning to the office—even in a hybrid fashion—it’s important to re-establish rapport and interact face-to-face as much as possible to ensure you are aligned.
Focusing on the fundamentals is critical in building a productive relationship with your new boss, according to Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.
When it comes to working with a new boss, Watkins suggests not doing these things:
- Don’t stay away – Get on your boss’s calendar regularly and ensure you are in close communication.
- Don’t surprise your boss – Ensure your boss knows problems well in advance with regular updates so they gain confidence in your ability to deliver results.
- Don’t approach your boss only with problems – Give some thought to potential solutions so your boss has something to react to rather than resolve on his or her own.
- Don’t run down your checklist – Assume your boss wants to focus on the most important things you’re trying to do and how he or she can help.
- Don’t expect your boss to change – It’s your responsibility to adapt to your boss’s style: regardless of how you interacted with your previous boss.
Watkins recommends doing the following with your new boss:
- Clarify expectations early and often – Don’t make assumptions based on what your prior boss wanted but make it clear what he or she is expecting from you.
- Take 100 percent responsibility for making the relationship work – Don’t wait for your boss to adjust to you, but instead adjust to him or her.
- Negotiate timelines for diagnosis and action planning – Ensure that you are aligned on milestones and key delivery dates.
- Aim for early wins in areas important to the boss – Make your impact quickly so you can earn your boss’s confidence in your ability.
- Pursue good marks from those who opinions your boss respects – This means shoring up your reputation with other leaders who influence your boss.
These reminders can go a long way towards building a solid relationship with the person most influential with accelerating or decelerating your career opportunities. This is an investment that will pay huge dividends and shouldn’t be minimized.
Further, think of how you can establish a relationship where you’re treated as a thought partner. That means thinking about the challenges your boss is facing and how you can best support him or her.
Every time you get a new boss, think of this as a new opportunity for you to grow in your leadership and in your career. Take a proactive approach and take responsibility for it. You’ll likely enjoy your job more and make greater progress.