Navigating the waters with a new boss


Navigating the waters with a new bossUnless you consider your current boss the devil incarnate and would be only too happy to have a new one, most of us experience some grief when we lose our current boss, and anxiety, fear and stress when we get a new boss.

We know our old boss. How they behave, what they want, how we get along with them, how they rate our performance – all of these things we are familiar with. So even if they’re not the greatest managers in the world, we know them. And in knowing them, there’s a familiar comfort.

A new boss is a journey into the great unknown for many of us and this tends to shake up our world pretty dramatically. We go through a period of discomfort and adjustment as we seek to answer all those questions we have. What are they like? What will they think of me? How will this impact my future here, my place in the company, and my status with my colleagues?

Getting a new boss is change thrust upon us, not by our own choice, and change is stressful.

To help you to adapt to a new boss as positively as possible, consider these ideas:

Don’t let loyalties to the past poison your obligation to the present. You may have a great fondness for and sense of loyalty to your old boss. Possibly your old boss was let go or moved to another area due to circumstances you deem unfair. Whatever the case may be, honour your loyalties to your previous manager, but leave them, and any issues you have about their replacement, in the past. If you allow them to affect your reactions and behavior towards your new manager, it will only bring you trouble. You really have to think in terms of “that was then, and this is now!”

Accept that YOU WILL HAVE TO CHANGE. So, you’re thinking: “Well, I’ve been with this company 15 years, I do my job well, and my performance reviews are good, so, really, this new manager will see all this about me, and everything will be fine.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but WRONG. A new manager will always involve change, no matter how senior you are and no matter your past performance. They have a new way of looking at things, different ways of managing people, they will view you through a different perspective than your old boss, and they may even have a different mandate to act on. And it is incumbent upon the employee to adapt to the new manager, not for the new manager to adapt to the employees. That’s just the simple truth about the nature of these employment relationships.

Be proactive about change, not reactive. Your new manager might set up a schedule of meetings with employees as part of the introductory process, but if they don’t, move to engage with your new manager, and suggest time to meet to discuss any concerns or questions you have about this change, what expectations they have of you, any changes they would like to make, and how you can assist as they get accustomed to the new position.

Don’t get caught up in workplace politics.  Some of your colleagues may not have an easy time with this change. They may have a hard time leaving loyalty to the old boss in the past. They may get caught up in the rumour mill and spread unhealthy communication and/or ill will. You’ll want to distance yourself from any negative behaviour while still being supportive of your struggling colleagues. This takes skill and patience, and your leadership in this area will help you succeed as you transition to your new manager.

A change in boss is stressful, but you can manage this process quite successfully by considering and implementing these ideas.  An EFAP counsellor can help you as you navigate your way through this process. Explore some of the options available to you at and see how it’s easier than ever to access EFAP at your convenience, day or night, at home or away.

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