Dealing With a Change in Management: Tips for Working With a New Boss

Updated on October 8, 2017
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Sally Hayes is a business communications coach who teaches speaking and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Sometimes businesses change hands and you end up with a new boss. Here are some tips for employees on how to deal with a change in management or a transfer of business ownership.

Stay positive when the company you work for changes hands.

Are you ready to meet your new boss?
Are you ready to meet your new boss?

Did you just get a notice that your boss is being replaced by someone new?

Did the company that you work for recently undergo a change of top-level management?

Has the small business where you’ve worked for years been sold and now you’ll be working for a brand new boss?

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For many people, the thought of a change in management at work can be either welcome news or a dreaded omen. If you have been working under a boss who has been treating you and your co-workers unfairly, a change in leadership might give you hope that your difficult work situation could turn around. On the other hand, if you’ve always had a good working relationship with your supervisor, it may be hard to accept that someone new will be in charge.

No matter how you feel about being assigned a new boss, there are some things you can do to make working under new management as stress-free as possible. Here are some tips for how to cope with a change in leadership at work.

Brush up on your job interview skills. Working with a new boss doesn’t mean that you need to start looking for a new job. But during your first one-to-one meeting with your new manager, it is critical that you make a good first impression. All of those rules about job interviews still apply when you are meeting your new boss for the first time. Be confident. Focus on your assets. Dress to impress.

Successfully navigating a change in management at work means being open to heading in new directions.
Successfully navigating a change in management at work means being open to heading in new directions.

Stay positive and always act professionally. When someone new joins your work team, whether it’s a new boss or a new co-worker, it can be tempting to give the newbie the inside scoop, “helpfully” filling them in on the current office culture and “how things really work.” But offering unsolicited insider advice to your supervisor can backfire. First of all, by rushing to fill her in, you're implying that she has poor observational skills; you're essentially suggesting that your new boss isn’t bright enough to understand interoffice relationships. Give your new team leader time to make her own assessment about the current office culture.

You also don’t want to give the impression that you are an office gossip. No matter how bad things were before your new boss arrived on the scene, avoid complaining about your job, your co-workers, or your old boss. (This tip isn’t just for people working with a new boss. It’s for anyone who wants to advance in their careers.) If you believe that a change in leader is an opportunity to distance yourself from past office politics and drama, then why dredge up negative stories from the past?

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

— Wayne Dyer

Polish your communication skills. If you want to start off on good terms with your new boss, make clear and consistent communication a top priority. Be proactive and ask your new supervisor how he or she prefers to communicate. Does your new boss like to use email? Is she a hands-on leader who prefers to meet face to face? Does she believe in having strict office hours with no contact from employees outside of the office? Or does she insist on being kept up to date via cell phone even if that means calling her on her personal time (i.e.; weekends and holidays)? Understanding your new manager’s communication boundaries will ensure you don’t intrude on her life or keep her in the dark when an important issue comes up.

Be assertive. Be upfront with your new boss about what tools, resources, and support you need to successfully do your job. Your new supervisor wants you to do well at your job; that’s what you're paid to do, after all. When you do well, your boss looks good. And believe it or not, your new boss wants to make a good first impression with her higher-ups, too.

Be patient and empathetic. Even though your new supervisor may have years of experience, the truth is that starting a new job can be challenging for anyone. It doesn’t matter if someone is starting out at the bottom of the office food chain or sliding into a top position as a manager or CEO, it takes time to fit in and find your way. Be supportive and helpful without coming across as a suck-up. Put yourself in your new manager’s shoes and ask yourself what kind of help you would want.

Be open to change. Accept that your new boss will likely have a unique management style and will do things differently than your old boss. If, however, you're still feeling anxious about working with a new boss, have an honest discussion with yourself about why a change in leadership is bothering you. Are you concerned that your boss might not think you are competent or qualified to do your job? Have you been coasting along at work, taking it easy under your old boss’s lax supervision and you're worried that you’ll have to work harder now? If either of these questions touches a nerve, then it might be time to look inward and ask if you're really committed to this job or if it is time to move on. If you want to keep your job, perhaps some professional development courses or night classes to upgrade your skills will give you an extra boost of confidence.

By adjusting your attitude and thinking of this new leadership change as an opportunity for growth, you may discover that working with a new boss is the start of an exciting new career for you!

© 2013 Sally Hayes


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