What to Do When You Get a New Boss

What to Do When You Get a New Boss

Whether you’re starting out at a new job or getting a new manager, your top priority will be to make a strong first impression on your new boss.

But in order to get your new boss to notice you, you’ll first have to understand what makes your boss tick. 

What are your new manager’s priorities? What are they passionate about? How do they measure success and what do they expect from their employees? These are just some of the questions you’ll want to explore when you get a new boss. 

Working with a new boss can be stress inducing, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are tips and strategies you can use to build a trusting relationship with your new boss and get them to recognize your worth. 

Do your research 

If you want to get off on the right foot, then try to familiarize yourself with your new boss beforehand. Check out their LinkedIn profile and previous work experience. Read articles they’ve written or watch talks that they’ve given. What kind of industries have they worked in? What special skills or interests do they have? What cities have they lived in?

These personal details will come in handy when you first meet your new boss. For example, bringing up a colleague you have in common can make your first interaction feel less intimidating, and help you quickly establish rapport

Be a sponge

In the first month of working with your new boss, soak up as much information as you can about them.

Observe your new boss in action and note their patterns and preferences. How do they like to conduct meetings? What information do they always require? What’s their communication style? For example, does your boss like concise text messages? Or do they prefer to meet in person? Does your boss like frequent updates? Or do they only want the headlines at the end of the week?

Ann Hiatt, the former Executive Business Partner to Jeff Bezos, talked about her experience starting off as a junior assistant to the former Amazon CEO in the podcast What I Wish I Knew. In the interview, she describes setting aside time each day to read what Bezos read, familiarize herself with key people and terms, and read the newspapers Bezos read in the morning. All of this intel would help provide a better understanding of her new boss and his work. 

Being a sponge will help you anticipate your new manager's needs and understand where they’re coming from. Taking the time to listen, watch, and do your research will help you excel in your role and start off strong. 

Know how to present information to your new boss

Not all bosses like to receive information the same way. 

Some bosses are visually oriented and need decks and charts, while others like briefing documents with pages of background information. Some bosses like stories and personal anecdotes, while others want nothing but facts and figures. 

Let’s say your old boss was open to hearing new ideas, but your new boss is much more data driven. Then make sure you support your idea with the relevant stats and research


Don’t say: “I think we should do X.” 

Do say: “According to last quarter’s sales report, I noticed an increase in a,b,c and I think we should do X.”  

This is why it’s so essential that you spend time up front observing your new boss and understanding their work and communication style. When you know how to present information to your boss, you can get your message across much more effectively. This will save you both time and energy, and you’ll walk away feeling confident. 

Understand your new boss’s priorities

What matters most to your new boss? 

It can be as profound as wanting to make a difference in the world, to something smaller like making sure that meetings start on time. 

Identifying your new manager’s priorities is also important if they were brought in to implement change in your organization. Are they responsible for restructuring your department? Increasing sales? Understand what they were brought in for and it will help inform your work going forward. 

If you’re not sure what your boss’s priorities are, do some information gathering. What’s on their schedule? What kinds of meetings are they having? If you work at a medium to large organization, read your company’s strategic plan and identify the overarching goals. You’ll then have a wider context for your boss’s work, and understand what’s important to them, on both the micro and macro level.

Solve your boss’s headaches 

With a new boss, you don’t want to immediately volunteer to take on the big,high profile projects. Instead, build trust and credibility by solving problems for your boss. 

It’s so easy to point out problems, but not everyone is willing to provide solutions and take action on them. 

So what’s worrying your boss? Or what would they love to have taken off their plate?

For example, if the holidays are your office’s busy season and you’re short staffed, volunteer to take on what needs to be done. Roll up your sleeves and mail packages. Reply to customer service messages. Interact with vendors and suppliers. 

Or if your boss seems to enjoy working on strategy and big picture thinking, but they dislike attending special events or networking, then see if you can take on some of those tasks. Attend meetings on their behalf. Talk to key stakeholders. Mentor new hires. 

Of course, not everyone is going to have the time and energy to absorb extra work. But see if there are other ways that you can make a small, but impactful difference. Drafting an email for your boss may not seem like much, but it frees up time in their day to do something important. 

Taking on your new boss’s headaches can be a great learning opportunity. You’ll interact with different teams and departments, and learn more about your boss’s work. 

By solving your boss’s headaches, you can quickly gain a reputation for your creativity and know-how, and be seen as a vital member of their team.

Written by JiJi Lee.

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