If you’re starting a new job, sooner or later you’re going to have to get to know the way your new boss likes to work. The first three months are a critical time. One thing you don’t want to do is to try and get your new boss fitting in with your expectations and methods. They’re the boss and your fate lies in their hands so you’ll want to stay in their good books. Working with you should be a pleasure rather than a chore.
So, how do you become an integral part of your new boss’s team, fitting into their system and becoming a part of it?
Find their foibles
Firstly, try to get some background on how they work or what they’ve done before you start work. You may be able to get some idea at your interview or by asking your new colleagues.
Do they like regular meetings and progress updates, or do they prefer to let you get on with things and only hear from you at the end of a project? Do they prefer talking in person or via email? Do they like to see numbers and graphs, or do they prefer written explanations? Are there any times of the day or week when they prefer to be left alone?
Don’t try to make comparisons between your old boss and your new boss. Everyone has their own way of working and there’s no harm in asking your new boss exactly what it is they want from you. If you know what drives them and what their expectations are, then it’s much easier for you to meet them.
While starting a new job is a stressful time for you, remember your boss also has a job to do. You need to find the right balance between asking questions and learning the skills you need to do the job, and hanging round like a bad smell.
Saying nothing might be interpreted as lethargy or a challenge to their authority whilst constantly asking questions might call into question your ability to do the job.
You still need to be proactive and helpful – without overcrowding them. Try and solve any issues yourself first or ask a colleague then keep your new boss informed when something is completed so they can see your successes rather than the problems you had along the way.
Keeping an open dialogue with your boss is good when you need to ask a favour, such as leaving an hour early to pick up a package from the post office. If your boss is the kind of person who likes strict timetables then this might be more of a favour than you would think. Be aware of how they see things, rather than how you see them.
Be proactive and constructive in establishing your relationship early rather than waiting for misunderstandings.
Recognising whether the relationship is working or not isn’t always that easy.
Try to be objective and don’t make assumptions. You may feel you’re not doing a good job, but perhaps your boss is merely not telling you what’s wrong. Or you may feel like you’re doing well, but your boss is just not very good at giving recognition for good work
If things don’t seem to be ideal early on, don’t panic and stay positive. Ask for feedback not just from your boss but also from your colleagues. They will have a much better idea about your boss’s preferred way of working than you do..
Welcoming a new boss
Rather than dealing with a new boss when you’re the new employee, you may be in a situation where your old boss has left and a new one is brought in from outside the business.
If you had a good relationship with your old boss, this can be challenging and even stressful, but not as stressful as it is for them coming into the company and settling into their new job.
Take this as a chance to think about yourself with fresh eyes and assess what you have to offer. The new boss will be making instant assessments of their new team so show that you are an integral part of that team, and that you can make their life easier.
Any new boss needs people who will support them. Achieve this and you’ll start to get the rewards out of the relationship.