Handling the New Sheriff in Town… Tips for Starting Off Right With a New Boss

Dealing with a new boss can be a stressful and difficult experience. A new face dishing out directives takes some getting used to. It’s hard enough for many of us to accept authority, let alone someone with whom you have no familiarity or loyalty, and who may have, in the worst of cases, taken a job you yourself coveted.

Reactions to a new boss can alternately stretch from rebellious to apathetic to quaking uncertainty. There are myriad reasons to justify the knee-jerk reactions that often accompany the arrival of a new boss. But, for the health of your career, you’ll have to find a quick fix for your restless leg. Stay calm, collected and follow these tips to successfully handle the new sheriff in town.

Give It Time
ThinkstockPhotos-515048627Within the first day of the new hire’s arrival, people will flood the new boss’s office. Resist the temptation to join the masses. The boss won’t say it (hopefully, she’s too polite), but she can sense the brown-nosing. The last thing you want is to become included, de facto, in the glut of office groupies. Stay on the sidelines while the fawning adoration and eye-batting subside. Take a few seconds to introduce yourself, welcoming the boss with a firm handshake and a brief, introductory conversation.

THE Conversation
You’ve waited out the scripted applause lines, congratulatory back-flips and pom-pom waving. Congratulations. Now it’s time to have a serious sit-down with your new boss. Your goal for this meeting is simple: Unearth a clear understanding of the boss’s goals and expectations.

ThinkstockPhotos-172587247During the back-and-forth, be candid, but not aggressive; honest, but not contrarian. It’s important to make sure you’re sharing the same page. Remember that even though you may have been with the company much longer than the new hire, you are wedded to their vision, for better or worse. If you feel uneasy with their management style, it’s okay to (gently) let them know.

Be careful to corral your feedback. Refrain from politico rambling and gossip spreading. All that advice on procedural efficiency you’ve been biding on the tip of your tongue? Swallow it — if need be, you can wash it down with your ego. There’s a better, less hectic time to offer trenchant advice. This period should be limited to accommodating your boss.

A Helping Hand
Transitioning to a new position and a new team is tough. In the first few weeks, your boss will likely be flooded with tasks important and perfunctory. You should let her know with genuine eagerness that you’d like to help smooth out any rough-spots or tackle any burdensome projects. Warning: You may run smack into some menial, mind-numbing tasks, but this is a long-term investment in the positive relationship you should hope to forge with your boss.

Complete Makeover: Office Edition
ThinkstockPhotos-519168216View the new boss’s landing as an opportunity for some personal re-invention. Your new boss doesn’t have a clue about the big deadline you missed a few weeks ago, your quick-fire temper, or the presentation you flubbed. This is the perfect opportunity to get cracking on your new image. Take some time to reflect on your most glaring flaws and inadequacies — a list might even be helpful. Then put that self-knowledge to work, presenting yourself anew to your boss, without the cumbersome weight of previous work performance.

As much as you can, embrace your new boss, leaving your resentments, fears and anxieties in the desk drawer, something to be taken out and laughed at when the tumult has finally ebbed. How you handle the first few days will likely color the entire relationship. Be thoughtful, precise and humble. Keep these bits of advice in mind, and you’ll make a solid, lasting impression.

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