Advice For Dealing With a New Boss

How to handle a regime change in your advertising agency job

The new boss
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As sure as night follows day and Black Friday follows Thanksgiving, you will get a new boss at some point in your life. There are a few ways this can happen, but the main three are:

  • You start a new job and report to a new boss
  • You get promoted and report to a new boss
  • You stay put, but a new boss is employed at your place of work

The first two are not what we're going to focus on in this article because they are usually within your control, and at the very least, you see them coming and can prepare.

But the third, that's a different story. A new boss can enter your life in many ways, and all of them can be equally unsettling. Perhaps your boss, a creative director, is fired to make way for fresh blood. Maybe your agency merges with another, and a new account director or CD is put in charge. Maybe your boss quits and gets replaced by someone very different.

The Realities of Advertising Agency Turnover

In some professions, the examples above are rare. But in advertising, regime changes happen all the time. Agencies merge, and merge, and merge again. Creative people quit and get replaced. Others get "let go" for a very different type of creative personality. The advertising industry seems to both suffer and thrive on turnover.

When you end up with a new boss, you will naturally have concerns and hesitations about the man or woman now steering the ship. But the last thing you need to do is let worry, paranoia, and gossip get in the way. Change is inevitable in life, and when we embrace it, we can foster it and help it grow.

The Do's of Having a New Boss

There are many things you can do to make a new management situation work in your (and everyone else's) favor, and there are also things you can avoid doing to make this transition positive. Here's the list. May it serve you well under the new regime.

  1. Do Give Your New Boss Every Chance to Succeed
    Your new boss has big plans. You can help, or you can get in the way. But chances are, these plans will be beneficial if you give them a chance. If things were not going well before they arrived, it will take a while to turn a big ship around.
  2. Do Be as Honest with Your New Boss as You Can Be
    Lie to your new boss, you're lying to yourself. This is a great time to start fresh, air grievances (without being a negative Nancy) about current systems, and be honest about what you want from your job.
  1. Do Treat Your New Boss with Respect
    Smartasses and whiners don't get far. Snarky comments will be remembered. This is not the time to show disdain in their hiring. Be respectful, like you would with any other boss. And that also means curbing your desire to kiss their butt. It will not work.
  2. Do Realize That Your Boss Is Under Greater Pressure Than You Are
    They're in a new role, surrounded by new people, with systems that are new and different to them. Not only does your new boss have to shine in their own role, they have to make sure everyone underneath them is shining too. So, give them a break!
  1. Do Take the Time to Introduce Yourself Properly
    Hiding in your cubicle or office is not going to endear you to your new boss. You don't want to be the quiet mouse or the stick-in-the-mud. Yes, your boss will be busy, but there is always 10 minutes available to meet a member of the team. A good boss will want to meet you anyway and get to know you. But why not show some initiative and schedule the meeting?
  2. Do Be Prepared to Change Your Ways
    Your old boss may have liked you to submit work in a certain way, or present ideas with sketches instead of finished comps. Your new boss will almost certainly have different preferences. Saying "this is how it's done" will not work in your favor. Be flexible. As long as you get your work done well, you should fit into the new way of working.

    The Don'ts List of Dealing with a New Boss

    The items on this list shouldn't need any explanation but can be easy errors to make. In addition to making sure to do the right things, don't fall into these traps.

    1. Don't try to alienate or one-up them.
    2. Don't think you know more than they do.
    3. Don't suck up; it's not appealing and it's very transparent.
    4. Don't be suspicious of every decision they make.
    5. Don't try and undermine their authority.
    6. Don't expect change to happen overnight; there are too many puppets to deal with.
    7. Don't use the new boss as a sounding board for every grievance.
    8. Don't start gossiping about them. Karma will find you.
    9. Don't keep the same lax hours. Come in early; leave late.
    10. Don't expect a promotion or a raise; that will take time.