Your relationship with your manager can make or break your job performance and satisfaction. So, when you're meeting and starting out with a new boss, it’s important to get off on the right foot. Here are ways to make sure you and your boss get off to a good start from the first meeting on, and, alternatively, five ways to guarantee you’ll be looking for a new job soon.
Know Your Job
This is the most important way to impress your new boss—be really good at what you do. Good leaders have a knack for sizing their new teams up within the first few weeks. They will ask around. If you're good at what you do, they'll pick up on it, and if you’re not, not much else will matter.
Be Proactive About Introducing Yourself
If possible, send a resume ahead of time. Provide a summary of your responsibilities, the projects you're working on, your development plan, and any other information that may not be in your official employee file.
Earn Their Appreciation
Behaviors and attitudes your new boss will appreciate include enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, initiative, and good judgment. Behaviors that are frowned upon by a new manager: cynicism, whining, finger-pointing, skepticism, and acting like a know-it-all.
Find out what your new manager expects from you (and other employees) in general. Be prepared to talk about what you expect from your manager in case you're asked—but only if asked. If it's not requested, that's usually not a good sign.
Help Your New Manager Learn
Be proactive, anticipate what they need to know, and provide it at the appropriate time. And be patient. If your manager doesn't seem interested in learning, that's another red flag. The best new leaders spend the first three months asking questions and listening.
Try to minimize how many times you say, "We tried that before and it didn't work." Your new manager will appreciate some of those insights, but will also want to see that you're willing to try something again.
Be Open to Change
Listen. Don't listen to evaluate; listen for possibilities. Chances are, there's a reason a new manager was brought in—don't come across as part of the problem. Maybe you are, but you can show a willingness and ability to adapt and change.
Learn About Your New Manager
Do a Google search. Look up their LinkedIn profile. Find out about their leadership style or philosophy. Ask questions about interests, hobbies, family, etc. Show an interest in getting to know them and offer information in return. Being vulnerable is the first step to building trust and a relationship. Play it by ear—don't offer too much too early (TMI), but be prepared to reciprocate.
Watch Your Manager's Back
Assume you already have a positive and stable working relationship, and act that way. Expect that anything you say about your new boss will get back to them or end up on the company intranet front page the next day. Be an ally.
Don't Be a Blatant Suck-Up
A good leader usually knows the difference between sucking up and basic courtesy and competence. Do good work and try to build a good relationship, but don't go overboard.
Five Ways to Start on the Wrong Foot
For those of you that are self-destructive, here are some ways to get off to a bad start with your new manager:
- Assume your new manager is incompetent, evil, and untrustworthy. Make them earn your respect and trust.
- Keep your head down and your mouth shut. Your new manager should learn the hard way, just like you did. Keep a low profile. Speak only when asked and offer the bare minimum amount of information. Experience is the best teacher, and we all learn from our mistakes.
- Assume your job is to help your new manager learn the ropes and assimilate to the established way of doing things. Be a role model for conformity. It'll feel like you're breaking a wild horse for a while, but hang in there, because they all come around eventually.
- You know all of those grievances, grudges, and complaints you've been storing up? All of those things your previous manager wouldn't hear? Well, here's your big chance. Take the whole list with you for your very first meeting. Even better if you come in as the "spokesperson" for your team. Your manager will respect your budding leadership potential.
- Remember, your best chance at success and climbing the old ladder is doing everything you can to sabotage your new boss. The dumber your new manager looks, the smarter you'll look. Don't miss an opportunity to correct or disagree with your manager publicly, or even better, behind their back.
Oh, and by the way, if you're going to follow these five ways, be sure to get the contact information for your old manager. You may find that you're going to need a new job soon.