Jul 052012

The appointment of a new boss can turn your career upside down. You’ve built a strong comfortable relationship with a boss and feel secure in your career.

But the arrival of a new boss throws you into the unknown. Anxiety levels rise as the future becomes more uncertain.

In tough economic conditions demands on bosses to perform are intense. Failure to perform triggers change which then affects everyone under them.

As with every new boss, relationships start afresh as track records are cast aside and the onus is on existing employees to prove their worth.

But how do you make that killer impression? What tried and tested techniques are there to get on the good side of the new top dog?

1. Get the first impression right
Not only does that first impression need to be a good one, but it needs to be a lasting one too. Wear a flattering colour, look sharp, speak well and be positive. It’s also important to keep calm and do some homework with a few informed questions ready to go.
And don’t be a joker right away. There’s a very fine line between suitable and offensive office humour so don’t try to walk it until you’ve had time to gauge the new boss. When you do, err on the side of caution.

Getting the first impression right can instantly endear you to a new boss so do all you can to make it a good one.

2. Know their priorities
Find out what the new boss is there to achieve and how they’re going to gauge success. If they’re a numbers person then quantify all your results that way. If they’re customer driven, pitch all your successes around how they are going to serve customers better.

It’s a very simple strategy but one that is so valuable in letting the boss know that you’re on the same page.

3. Talk their talk

Everyone has a preferred method of communication so find out what the new boss’s is and use it. A good guide is how they communicate with you. It might be short, sharp emails summed up in the subject line, easy to digest statistics delivered in person or brief messages left on their phone.

Whatever it is, suss it out and stick to it.

4. Find common ground

If all else is equal a boss will promote the person they like best, and even when things are a little unequal this might still be the case. That’s why it’s so important to find some common ground and build rapport with a new boss.

The more they perceive they have in common with you, the more they will like you. Even if no common ground is apparent at first, look hard enough and you’ll find something.

5. Toot your own horn

If you do something good, let the boss know. This doesn’t mean boasting at every opportunity, just a quick confirmation that a project’s been completed, a well-done email out to your team with the boss copied in or a short update on how things are going.

Keep it short, positive and avoid making it all about you. This way you will get your achievements across and demonstrate important leadership credentials.

6. Look for new responsibilities…but don’t overpromise
Take on extra responsibilities without being asked to demonstrate initiative to your new boss. Look for ways things could be done better and volunteer to drive the process of improvement.

But don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you promise to do something, make sure you can deliver on it.

7. Get some feedback

It’s no good waiting until a scheduled performance review to get feedback – by then it’s too late to improve. Seek out constant feedback on your performance so you can improve it today.

This doesn’t mean constant nagging, just asking about ways you could do things better after each project or milestone. Don’t assume the boss will bring up problems with your performance of their own accord.

8. Be helpful

Remember they are new to the job, and probably the company too, so share helpful information when they ask for it without making them feel uncomfortable. But lose any ‘that’s just the way we’ve always done it’ attitude…you’ve got a new boss for a reason.


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