“I’m retiring in a couple of months,” my boss said recently. Managers come and go as organizations are restructured, people take promotions, retirement or new posts outside the company. But I’ll be sad to see him go – he has been a great manager over the past few years.
It got me thinking about what you need to do when your line manager changes. There are quite a few considerations in order to get ready for meeting your new boss. In this article, I’ll share 7 things to consider when you get a new boss, based on what I found useful.
1. Introduce yourself
You’ve just got a new boss. It sounds obvious, but if your new manager is taking on a huge team, they may not have time in the first few weeks to get round everyone for personal introductions. Take the initiative and go and introduce yourself.
This is easy to do — don’t feel embarrassed or worried about making a good impression. Just pop by their office and say hello. You don’t need to take up much of their time.
You can do this regardless of how senior the boss is. Let’s say they are a couple of levels above you in the hierarchy. You don’t want to come across as overstepping the mark, but I think it’s fine to pop by and stick your head around the door and say: “Hi, I work in So-and-So’s team in the XYZ division. Just thought I’d say hello and welcome to Our Company.”
They’ll say hello back, and maybe ask you a question about what you do. Answer, and then say, “I don’t want to take up any more of your time, so I’ll let you get back to what you were doing. Nice to meet you.” And go. That’s it.
If you are worried about making small talk with the new person, download my 28 small talk conversation starters for professional situations.
If you are working virtually, bumping into people and just ‘popping round’ is harder to engineer. Why not send them a calendar invite for 10 minutes with the subject line of ‘Team intro: Your Name’ and see if they accept. If they are your line manager they will pretty much have to (and you can ask for more than 10 minutes).
2. Introduce the new boss to others
Starting work in a new company can be daunting, even for very senior managers. Help them make connections and meet the movers and shakers in your company. Don’t engineer meetings, but if they ask about something say, “Have you met so and so from Department X? They would normally be the main point of contact for that.” You can then open up the conversation and offer to introduce them, if they would like you to.
If they have an assistant, that person will normally do the intros for them if they need any actual meetings set up. If they have brought their assistant from their old company, offer to help that person make connections while they get familiar with who does what.
Don’t worry, they’ll be expecting it.
Make sure your search results show something you are proud of. Update your LinkedIn profile to showcase your project management skills and see if you can get a few recommendations that are relevant. Add your projects to LinkedIn so they can see what you have done in the past.
Ask your old boss to give you a LinkedIn recommendation before they leave! It’s fine to ask outright for recommendations. If you think it would be easier, give them one first and then ask if they will return the favor.
4. Explain your current projects
What are you working on right now? Get some time in their diary to explain your projects, their benefits and their status. Talk about the key stakeholders and the project sponsors. Share your current issues and what you are doing about them, and make them aware of anything urgent that needs their attention.
If your new boss is going to play a critical part in some of your projects, you’ll want to add them to any relevant meetings or circulation lists, but let them know that you’ll do that before you start filling their calendar.
This pack of project management templates for stakeholder management will help you set up your new relationship for success by working out what they need to be involved with and how.
5. Explain your take on the team
I recommend you only do this if asked, but a number of my previous new managers have asked for my views on the strengths and weaknesses of the team as a whole, and how the department is perceived by other departments. They obviously take this ‘insight’ under advisement, but for someone new to the company this can be useful information to know.
Be prepared with what you want to say before they ask, in case they ask. Think about what you are prepared to share and what would be best not to say. For example, no gossip but some factual information about working styles, areas of expertise or how the department is perceived by other areas of the business might be useful.
6. Ask what they need from you
Do they expect weekly status reports? Do they expect you to attend monthly conference calls? With a different manager comes a different way of working, so don’t expect them to stick to the same schedule of progress updates and meetings that you had with your last boss. Be upfront and ask what they are expecting. Then you won’t get caught out.
Start as you mean to go on, and think about how to manage expectations on their side and yours.
7. Be easy to work with
You’ve just got a new boss, but that boss has just got a new team. Every new manager (every manager, really) wants team members and direct reports who are easy to work with.
How do you do that? It’s easy really.
Deliver on your promises. Be honest, punctual and approachable. Keep your sense of humor in check until you know how they will react to your jokes. Bring them problems only with a selection of solutions and a recommendation. Accept their decisions, but challenge respectfully where you think it is appropriate.
Remember, your job is to make your boss look good. They also have a manager who expects status reports and your role is to make your manager’s job easy by providing whatever it is that he or she needs in order to be a success. After all, if they are successful in their role, the success reflects well on you and the team. And they will remember you.