Honeymoon With The Boss? Absolutely!

Stick around in an organization for some time and it’s likely you’ll go through a change in Supervisor as those around you retire, get promoted, change jobs etc. When that transition happens, you’ll find yourself having to adjust to the fact you’ve got someone new at the helm providing direction.

Depending of course on your relationship with your previous boss, you may be looking forward to the change with great anticipation. On the other hand, if you were fortunate enough to have a positive relationship together, you may be finding the situation has you happy for them but a little disappointed or perhaps sad yourself. Nonetheless, change is afoot through no action on your side of things so you’d best mentally prepare yourself for the change over.

Early days in a relationship – and yes this is a working relationship but a relationship just the same – should be something to look forward to. The new boss wants to get off to a good start, will take some time to get to know all their staff personally; how they tick, what motivates them, their strengths, areas upon which to improve, how they communicate with others, work ethic etc. You as the employee are also adjusting, finding out what the supervision style is of this new Supervisor, learning their expectations, how they communicate and lead, where they’ve come from and how ambitious they may be to excel.

This phase is often called a ‘honeymoon’ period; things are pretty good, it’s getting to know this person and them you, in how you both will interact. Now while in a marriage you most often join because of a mutual desire to set up house together, you could argue this is more of a shotgun affair, having this new person thrust on you whether you like it or not. Why though start this relationship thinking negatively or with suspicion? Go with this a positive thing and a fresh start and your attitude might do you a world of good.

My team is in this stage right at the moment; our Supervisor retired 3 days ago now, and our new Supervisor starts on Monday. Now fortunately, the new boss is a former colleague of ours, and my assessment is that her head and her heart are both in the right place. She’s intelligent, compassionate, fun with a great laugh, but serious when she needs to be and its been my experience that she’s someone who wants what’s best for the people we serve. This is her first Supervisory role, having been successful in a recent competition.

New Supervisors have their own style and it may mirror or contrast with the approach their predecessors used. It might not be fair to hold a person just starting out up against someone who retires with a history of leadership, but it’s inevitable that employees will compare the two moving forward. Listen for it and in the early days there could be conversations among employees on a team going through a change that comment positively or otherwise about the style of the new vs. the old.

There will also be comments that refer not so much about comparing a previous boss with the new, but speak more to the values held by the new Supervisor. “She doesn’t respect the experience on the team does she?” or, “I like the fact she’s taking the approach that we’re all here to support and help each other.” I think it’s safe to say employees always like to feel valued and appreciated for what they give, and hopefully when you go through such a change, your incoming boss recognizes your skills and experience.

The thing to remind yourself of however is that the selection of the person who now leads your team reflects Upper Management’s direction. So supposing a new Supervisor were to come in and shake things up, you’d be well-advised to realize that they are likely doing so with the approval of their own boss. Is it the direction they’ve received to lead similar to the person before them or to tighten things up, instil some creativity and innovation, realign people to new roles or maybe even weed out some dead wood?

Look, you can worry yourself and stress about the changeover; be suspicious and cautious about how much you trust this new person. You can decide to give them respect only if they respect you first, hinder their early days and spread discontent among your peers. Conversely, you can accentuate the positive, welcome them sincerely and help them get off to a good start by doing the work you’re paid to do with some enthusiasm. Either way, you’re going to share the same workplace, so how do you want to be perceived? How you get on together in the beginning will set the tone for your ongoing relationship.

In some workplaces, you might have had a briefing by upper Management advising you of the plans they’ve got, the need for things as they are or maybe an opportunity to overhaul, move people around all at the same time etc. Then again, it’s well within their purvey to act without full disclosure to everyone on the workforce. You’ll find out when deemed proper, such as the first team or individual meetings.

Look on the bright side, you’ve got a fresh start, and in this case, so does my team.


The Boss Who Replaces Your Boss

Work long enough for an organization you’re bound to encounter a time when your boss moves on, replaced with someone else. If you’ve worked together for many years, it may seem odd to suddenly find yourself devoid of that relationship, especially if it was a productive one built on mutual respect.

I say it may be odd because when you spend years working together, you develop trust in each other, you know what to expect from each other, and you mutually invest in the relationship. It’s not policies and procedures that define a supervisor; it’s the little things like conversations at the start of the business day, inquiries about your family, your hobbies etc. It’s not so much the role of the person, in this case the boss; it’s the departure of someone who you came to develop a close working relationship with. You’d feel this same void if it was your office mate, the title of boss just adds a layer to the change.

Make no mistake, while your job didn’t change, with a change in supervisor, you still experience change. How you adapt to that change defines how well or poorly you perform moving forward. If you had a great boss – even a good boss, you will find yourself happy for them, especially if for a promotion or a lateral move they sought out. If they weren’t the best boss, you may find yourself grateful for the change, even euphoric; hopeful that the new boss will be a welcomed change from the former boss. Change however, it remains; change you must deal with.

Who replaces your boss is out of your control. Upper management usually determines what is needed in the office, factory floor or district. They may think a shake-up is required, some control re-established, or perhaps things need to remain exactly as they are. Depending on what upper management believes is required; you’ll find yourself with a new person in the role who best brings what is perceived to be needed. So you could find yourself with a new Sheriff in town if order needs to be restored, a Visionary if new direction is desired, a Whip Cracker if production needs increasing and some personnel changes are in order.

You could however, also discover that a clone replaces your boss; someone with similar characteristics in the role who doesn’t appear to be rocking the boat, making sweeping changes of any kind. This could be a strong signal that the team you work on, the department you work in, or the shift you work on is doing just fine the way it is. Not that complacency is encouraged, but this kind of change would indicate performance of the group you work within is appreciated.

There is an opportunity here for you when there is a changeover in your supervisor. In the first few days and weeks of the transition, you have a distinct advantage in knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both yourself and your team. You could request a, ‘get-to-know-you’ meeting with the new boss, where you sit down and share your role, your strengths and what motivates you. It’s also where you can demonstrate some genuine interest in the boss; where they came from, what motivates them, what’s their leadership style, their expectations. Yes they probably schedule some team meeting, deliver some message to a larger audience, but this 1:1 meeting is about defining your personal relationship with the new boss.

What a great opportunity to mentor the boss! This could be where you share an individual project you are working on, any unofficial role you play on the team, where the team looks to you for leadership. It’s also a wonderful chance to share your motivation, what makes you tick, your philosophy of service, priorities; preferences you have for getting feedback.

The most important thing about this changeover and your encounters with the new boss is that you be genuine. If you are playing up your role on the team, inflating your own importance or being overly flattering of the new boss, they’ll likely spot you for what you are; disingenuous. It’s probable that they’ve already been briefed on the personnel on their new team anyhow.

One of the best decisions you can make early in the transition to a new boss is to get on board with the plans they have. Being resistant; possibly even defiant isn’t going to win you any favours or put you on solid ground. You may have the advantage of time on the team, but they have the legitimate power to effect change which comes with their position, and probably have the blessings of their superiors too. Unless their plans fly in the face of the organization or will cause you to lose your job, the sooner you adapt to the new direction and the new way of doing things, the better for you.

If you’re fortunate, you’ll have a new boss you’ll come to value as much as the previous boss you enjoyed working with. If the departure of your previous boss is good news for you, see this as a fresh start. People are never identical and it’s important not to compare the new with the old. See and evaluate the person for whom they are and support them as you would any new member to the team.

Supervisor Change

We experience change in our work environments both when we ourselves initiate it and when others around us make changes in their own lives. Sometimes the impact on us personally is small and at other times, the ripple effect has a significant impact on how we go about our jobs.

Last Friday afternoon it was announced that my immediate Supervisor has accepted a three-month promotional assignment; she’ll be assuming an acting role of Manager at an office in an adjacent city. Now I’ve been fortunate to have the benefit of her leadership and guidance for the last 8 years. That’s a fair stretch where I’ve come to know what she expects from myself and my teammates.

Today is her final day with us until one day in January of 2016 when the assignment is over and she returns. Big deal or not? Well, yes it is. Now first and foremost I have to say that I am thrilled for her and truly happy she has been given this opportunity and seized upon it. What a great way to try out the position and see if it is something she would like to aspire to in a permanent role.

I’m also glad for those at the other office location because they are going to benefit from her mentorship and guidance. She’s what I call an employees boss; her focus is always centered on how she can best improve service to our clients by improving how we the staff deliver it. She puts me and my teammates in positions to succeed; gives us the necessary tools to do our work, listens to our wants and needs, and gives us all the benefit of her experience. She really is going to be missed over that three-month period.

Now the second reaction I had, and almost just as immediate was, “Wow, how is this going to affect me? Who will replace her?” Is that a selfish thought? Absolutely, but not in a negative way. When someone in a role directly above you on the organizational chart changes, there has to be a corresponding change upon those within that new persons realm of authority. So sure, it’s natural to think about whether the incoming replacement will go about things much the same or not.

Where you work, if you have had a change in Supervisor, did you have someone come in and manage your team with the same leadership philosophy? Often that’s a good thing if the people on your team are productive, happy and work well together. If the general perception is that the team needs a shakeup or wakeup call, sometimes the incoming Supervisor might be chosen specifically because they will move the team in another direction, expectations will change, how the work will be delivered will change. Staff might be roped back in if they’ve exceeded their authority, or given greater latitude in some cases if they’ve been stifled.

With such a relatively short assignment it is unlikely the person arriving in my case is going to change much. In fact, my Supervisor has made her wishes clear calling upon us as a team to mentor her incoming replacement. It’s up to us to show her why we are such a great team, how we deliver our services with care for the betterment of our clients experience. In short, she wants the incoming Supervisor to really get a first-hand glimpse of the team and be impressed. After three months, when the new Supervisor returns to her job at another office, she’ll not just have good memories of the time, but she’ll encourage others to refer their clients down to us in greater numbers because of the positive outcomes we achieve with those in our mutual care.

I have had enough Supervisor’s over my work life to appreciate my current one for the wonderful person she is. We both employ a Servant Leadership model on a daily basis. She’s good for me, and I hope I’m good for her. I am satisfied that she knows how I feel about her because over the years I’ve made it a point to tell her face-to-face how much I appreciate her as the best I’ve had. After all, when you have someone in your work life who truly makes you a better employee and improves your skills and broadens your way of thinking, why wouldn’t you thank them and acknowledge how much you appreciate them?

Now ironically, it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Ironic because I’m reminded to be thankful for what I’ve received at a very time I’m losing something. Yet thankful I am. You see she instructed, mentored, entrusted and believed in me while my direct Supervisor, and now she continues to mentor me and my teammates by showing us that we too have to evolve, consider other opportunities and grow.

Why not look at your own boss and tell them now while you have the opportunity just how much you appreciate them. Find something to be thankful for and let them know. Don’t wait until it’s their exit party to write, “you’ll be missed!” on their card. Telling someone how much you appreciate their support and guidance is a skill like any other and it’s just a nice thing to do for someone else.

Feeling happy for her today and really wishing her the best.