New jobs always come with new bosses, but sometimes, leadership is switched up on us while we’re still in the same job (this can be as much of a change as making your own move!). In change mode, it can be tempting to get a little introverted and focus on your own day-to-day; resist this urge and instead take a proactive role in getting your new boss settled in. Taking that responsibility can make a world of difference in how quickly your new team culture comes together.
This is an equally, if not a more important, effort if you were up for the gig and you did not get it. It shows the higher-ups that you are still invested as team player and that you’re demonstrating leadership skills. Even if you might be exploring other opportunities, it shows you are a professional if you manage this transition thoughtfully.
Use the “Gap” Wisely
If you have a new manager coming on board, you’ll more than likely have a few weeks where the ship doesn’t have a captain. This is an awesome opportunity for you to step up and demonstrate greater leadership in any projects. Offer to lead your weekly sales meeting or gather inputs for a team update email to the level your new manager would be reporting in to. You may even ask if you can sit in on those meetings and report back to your team.
Regardless of how it shows up in your office, find ways to fill that leadership vacuum by going the extra mile in supporting your junior peers and taking on additional responsibility. This is best received by your colleagues and higher-ups when it comes from a place of wanting to learn, add value, and cover any productivity gaps.
Without direct supervision for a few weeks, it may be tempting to take your foot off the gas and do a little more web surfing or take a few longer lunches. Resist the urge to slow down and use this time to step up your networking game. We’re always looking for a conversational hook and starter to reach out to our more senior connections, and a new boss is a great excuse. It’s an opportunity to ask what their direct reports have done to get them up to speed in a new role, or get updated on any industry trends.
Prep a Welcome Book
A new position is overwhelming regardless of where you land on the ladder. Your boss is going to be working hard to get to know your team, their boss, and their bosses’ boss. This learning curve is even steeper if they’re joining you from another company.
You have an early opportunity to make a great first impression by creating an on boarding book. This doesn’t need to live in print form, but should be deliberate enough to live as an institutional resource for other new hires down the line.
Think about including general company resources (links to charts, recent financials, company bios, and quick links to directories or benefits), then go a few levels deeper and draft up a couple of executive summaries of your narrower division. What are the key deliverables your team is working on this year? Where are you at in that process? Engage your teammates here and talk about how you could create an update doc that tees up key points at a glance.
Next, think about key POC’s that you and your former boss engaged with. Could you write up a quick cheat sheet of these contacts? Anything that can give your boss a roadmap to better understand who helps get the job done will be appreciated.
Reset Clear Expectations
In the effort to get a new manager up to speed, don’t lose sight of your own development goals. Ideally, before your previous boss departed, you completed a formal performance summary. Use that as a jumping off point to goal-set and discuss your developmental progress through the rest of the year. It’s thoughtful to give your new manager a few weeks to settle in, then book an extended one-on-one chat through goals and key deliverables for your position.
Depending on your company structure, you may even have another senior mentor or higher manager in a few of those first meetings to ease the transition. If you’re on the cusp of a promotion, or other advancement possibilities, be sure you’re passing along that documentation in advance of an in-person meeting so they have the chance to raise it up the chain for an update.
Start a 90-Day Plan
Your boss will be looking for quick wins to demonstrate success over their first few months. As you go through your own goals, think about how they can align with efforts at a more senior level. Suggesting how your day-to-day work aligns to larger organizational goals can be helpful to get a new manager seeing you as an indispensable part of their new crew.
Further, ask them to share their work plan with you as they’re given goals and new projects. In these first few months, taking the attitude of “nothing is not your job” helps build trust. Even though you’re the incumbent colleague, you are making a first impression.