Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

Will definitely not be like the old boss.  That one you worked with for years, learned the ropes, had some success, some failure; built a bond, war stories to share, had a beer or two.  Over time you built trust and mutual respect.  You had a camaraderie, a cadence; you were in your comfort zone. Nice!

All gone.

A friend of mine just got a new boss.  As we know this is one of the more stressful times for an employee.  Who is this person? What are they like? Can I work with them?

So what do we do now?  We check out their Linked In page. Find out what makes them tick. See how many contacts we have in common.  Zero was not what you were looking for.  Called a couple of co-workers. “Hey, do you know anything about my new boss?”  The responses intrigue and worry you.  Mostly worry.

You start off hopeful, giving them the benefit of the doubt.  And then it happens.  They contact you for the first meeting.  You exchange pleasantries, start to feel each other out, kind of like the first round of a boxing match.  “Hey, that went OK I think.”

You are then invited to your first team meeting.  You are the new kid on the block, focused, on your best behavior, mostly listening because you do not yet know the rules of engagement. The learning has begun.  You repeat to yourself, “Hey, that went OK I think.”

After the meeting, the new boss calls you into the office and asks how did the meeting go?  You say that you learned a lot and that you felt like it went pretty well. Then your new boss says, “You need to change the look on your face because you are coming across hostile.” And you think, What the F are they talking about?  Is he/she crazy?  This is just not going to go well.

This type of situation happens everyday because the manager and the employee did nothing to gain each others trust. Without first establishing a level of initial trust, the relationship starts off negative and will not likely ever become what it could have been.

To get a new work relationship started the new boss and employee need to work together to establish an initial level of trust. This is easily accomplished by establishing a “dialogue of partnership”, learning about each others professional and personal experiences, sharing past successes and failures, identifying areas that you might have in common and gaining an understanding of your personality type and work behaviors (Myers-Briggs, DISC, Kolbe e.g.).

Learning about each other upfront in an open, honest and non-confrontational way will get the relationship off to the right start. What happens after that is up to you.

And now for a little Who – 

#leadership #communication

4 thoughts on “Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

  1. Steve – I like your premise here. It’s so true. How does establishing that “dialogue of trust” happen? Many corporate cultures/onboarding, etc. don’t facilitate those types of early conversations. In my opinion, it becomes the responsibility of the individuals – both boss and employee – to make it happen. A lot of that comes down to personal confidence/consciousness to raise their hand and ask the question, “how do you want to work together?” If that didn’t happen prior the first meeting you described, then in that next interaction both of them need to be open to starting the dialogue. It takes confidence and openness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tim – It is definitely up to the two individuals to make this happen. If the manager has the right skills and knows how to build a team, then this should be part of the process. Whenever someone new joins the team, the entire dynamic changes. It is up to the manager/leader to drive through the forming/storming process so they can get to norming and performing quickly.


  2. This really speaks volumes about the best way to take on new direct reports. It also really gets to the root of how to establish a true synergy within a team. If you take the time to build trust and respect, you can manage your team in a way that genuinly leverages everyone’s strengths and drives towards success. Thanks for the post, Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

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