Everything is new. New company, new culture, new commute, new co-workers but probably the most important in your new adventure is your new boss. And what do you do if that new boss is not the person you thought he or she was? What if you are having concerns over whether you can work with him or her long-term? It’s a frightening experience and can cause anxiety and in some cases, can cause some to go back to their old job, if it’s still available.
But don’t despair, there are some things you can do to remind yourself why you took this plunge in the first place and to give it time.
Remind yourself why you left your old company. Don’t start looking at it with rose-colored glasses just because it was safe and you knew it inside out and it was as comfortable as dad’s leather chair.
Take a piece of paper and write down why you left. What was it that made you take the time and the effort to put yourself out there and to find a new job? Keep that list on the fridge so you see it every day.
Now, write down what it was that made you take this new job. What was it that excited you? What was it that made you say yes? Write them down and place it next to your other list.
Finally, look at your new boss and list out positives and negatives. Be honest, be harsh if it helps, but most of all, try to be subjective and keep the emotional out of it for the moment, because emotion can cloud your judgment.
And try to get to the root cause of things. If “doesn’t respect me” comes up on the list, think more deeply. What behaviors have you seen that make you think he doesn’t respect you? I would keep these kinds of phrases out of your list because they are more of an emotional response rather than a true example of the situation.
Instead, what does he or she do that makes you feel that he or she doesn’t respect you? Is he or she short with you? Does he or she command rather than listen? Does he or she knock down your ideas time and time again?
If you added these items to your list I can approach those. I can try to work with those issues because they are tangible. Not respecting me isn’t tangible; I don’t know how to approach that problem. But if I felt a person was short with me or just dictated to me or never likes any of my ideas, there are ways to handle it.
My manager is short with me
If a person is short with me it’s usually because they don’t have time to discuss things with me. Either that or I’ve made them mad and I’m new, I’ve had no time to make them mad. So it’s probably because they don’t have time to discuss whatever it is I am trying to discuss with them.
Remember, you don’t know the inner-workings of your new boss like you knew your old one. You knew your old manager’s idiosyncrasies, what time they usually arrived, whether they were a morning person or not. Whether they liked to banter during the day and laugh and talk about nothing or whether they were a heads down and let’s get to work kind of person. But you don’t know this about your new boss, so pay attention and give it time.
If they are short with you, what time of day is it? Are you noticing if others on the team are staying away from your boss during the same time? Are there other times people seem to come to your new boss? Pay attention to not only your new boss, but to your new co-workers, how do they interact with your new boss?
And ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a new co-worker, “How do you approach projects here at XYZ company?” or ,”What’s the normal way of communicating (or any other topic)?” If you have a company “buddy” or “mentor”, utilize them. If you don’t, find one. They will be invaluable to you!
I work for a dictator
Your new boss just grunts commands. He or she probably doesn’t grunt but it feels that way. Again, this person is new and when we meet someone new we notice all the things about him or her because they are new and we tend to read into them to try and gauge who they are as a person. It’s how we survive as a species, by trying to assess the new situation, or person, quickly and judge whether it’s safe or not. We do it all the time without really thinking about it.
Well you need to think about it a bit more deeply with your new boss.
Try to remember why you liked this new boss during the interview process. What was it about him or her that got you excited about this new opportunity? Remember that when you come to work every day.
Also, what kinds of discussions did you have in the interview that were exciting or that made both of you laugh? Try to bring up those topics again. Laughing with someone can cut the anxiety level and relax you.
And the dictating side, does he or she act like that with your co-workers or with others at the company? If he she does, that’s how they communicate. Try to look at the reaction of others in the office when they are working with your new boss. Do they look pensive, nervous? Are they laughing, relaxed, at ease? The way others appear to feel when they are with your new boss will give you a much better idea of their character than how they are currently interacting with you. It could be it just takes time as he or she is trying to figure you out as much as you are trying to figure him or her out.
If you do see that others don’t like working with your new boss, then your concerns are probably valid and how to deal with that is another discussion all together. But even then, give it time as I remember when I went to a different department at an investment bank I worked at and everyone in this office said not-so-nice things about a person and I chose to ignore them and found that person to be great to work with and to be a long-term friend, as well. So don’t judge too much. Give it time.
Are all my ideas that bad?
Sometimes when we start a new job we just have all these new ideas. They may be ideas that you had at your old company and you weren’t able to apply them but now at your new company, well maybe they would be receptive so you jump in full throttle using your old ideas on a new company of people. Maybe that’s not such a good idea since it is a different company. What might have worked at your old company, if given the chance, could be absolutely horrible at the new company. Have you really learned enough about the new company’s customers, culture, issues to have such grand schemes of what to do? Probably not, so this is the time to listen and observe.
The first few months should be used mostly to get to know who the people you are working with are, who are your customers, what are their pain points, and what are the true goals of the team and the company for this quarter and this year.
And work with your new boss and what you should be focusing on, and solidly deliver on them. It is the best way for you to build trust with your new boss.
And if you aren’t really sure what those goals are, go back to him or her and ask them to clarify, because one sure way to raise doubt is if they come to you in three months and ask how you are doing on your goals and you tell them and they look at you and say, “that’s not what we discussed.”
So discuss it, now! If you are not 100% clear on what your goals are, set up a meeting with your new boss and ask questions until you are absolutely certain what success looks like for the next three months. Those goals must be measurable! And make sure you control the meeting; the meeting was for you, not for your new manager to use the time to communicate new things to you. Make sure you leave that meeting knowing exactly how to succeed for the next few months. Your first few deliverables will be paramount in the longer-term working relationship you have with you new boss, who in a few months, will no longer be your new boss, they will be your manager.
When reality doesn’t meet expectations
This is the toughest one because the reason you took the job is you and the company’s vision aligned and you were so excited to roll up your sleeves and get the work done.
Now you are finding after being in the new job for a few months that what was discussed in the interview is not the reality and the vision your new boss has doesn’t match what he talked about in the interview.
I have seen this from both sides, one from the side of the employee and the other from the side of the company doing the hiring. What I find is companies say things during interviews that are more wishful than sometimes true. I don’t believe they are deliberately trying to deceive you; it’s more they see so much potential in what you can accomplish that they generally get excited and start talking wish rather than reality.
It sucks because that new rush of excitement is quickly extinguished and you are suddenly feeling deflated, defeated, and frankly even a little cheated because you feel you have been lied to.
I know it’s easy for me to say this because I am not currently experiencing it, but try to give your new company and your new boss the benefit of the doubt and understand they were not deliberately lying to you.
Once you get past the anger and disappointment of feeling cheated you can focus on the tasks at hand. Remember, you don’t have a long history with this new company or with your new boss, which means you need to prove yourself before you can go in and make those major changes with your bold visions. Because, frankly, people are afraid of change, especially from those who haven’t proven they can do it.
So go with the vision they have, do the tasks they suggest, whether big or small, and over time they will begin to see you can accomplish what you set out to do. Trust your vision, trust your work and most importantly trust yourself. It will take time but eventually they will respect your vision, appreciate your drive and trust you to help them get to that next level with you at the helm.