By Tamara Dowling, CPRW
On my first day as manager of a small department, one employee seemed really angry. I kept reaching out, but it had no impact. In fact her verbal outbursts seemed to increase. The entire team suffered. Every meeting we had as a group, we endured her childish or negative comments. I started progressive discipline to work on her destructive behavior. She walked a fine line and was never fired, but continued to be a disruption to the team.
Later after I had moved on from that position, I learned that she had applied for the job that I got and had blamed me for getting "her" position. That explained her attitude. However, I can't help but think how things could have been different. If she had put her bitterness aside, we could have worked together to improve her skills so she could have taken my place when I moved up. I would have been happy to mentor her, as I did many others. It is seven years later, and she is still in the same position.
Another employee in that group would frequently say, "We've never done it this way before." That hardly supported the change that I was hired to implement. She came around when she saw the positive outcome of our changes. However, I would have welcomed a supporting voice in those early weeks.
If you have a new boss, why not try to be his ally. Treat him as innocent until proven guilty. This person could be your greatest mentor or coach. Here are some practical tips for starting off on the right foot.
Research Your New Boss
Talk to insiders that you trust and find out about the new boss' style, past work experience and what his role will be in your department. The better you know your boss and what is important to him, the easier your relationship will be.
A new boss can be a fresh start for you. Your first meeting is not unlike a job interview. You want to impress your new boss, not compete with him or alienate him. Offer to assist him with his transition. You can be a terrific resource if he is new to the company. Be the welcoming person that he comes to rely upon.
Demonstrate Your Value Regularly
Just like a public company must consistently produce value for its shareholders, you must demonstrate your value to your boss, and the company. Refer to your past accomplishments, without bragging. Take on new challenges, especially high profile tasks that improve efficiency, save money, or increase revenue. Also, take the task that nobody else will do. You'll be seen as a team player.
Let Your Boss Set the Tone
Your new boss may want to jump in and follow the routine already in place. However, he may want to change everything. So avoid the urge to say, "We usually do this." If he wants to know how it was done in the past, he'll ask. Let your boss set up new routines and change things. He may have been brought it to turn things around, rather than keep the status quo.
Respect Your Present and Former Bosses
Don't say negative things about your old boss to your new boss, and vice versa. It may cause them to wonder if you are also talking about them. It is best to be loyal, even if the other person initiates it.
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