Five Ways To Win Over Your New Boss

Microsoft employees have a new top boss, so do many other U.S. employees. Here's what you need to know to make sure you and the Big Cheese get off to a fresh start.
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Bill Gates has officially handed the CEO torch over to long-time pal and right-hand man Steve Ballmer. While Ballmer isn’t exactly the ‘new guy’ at Microsoft (MSFT), his direct employees will have to prepare for a transition in leadership. Likewise, across the country, new bosses are popping up – much to the chagrin of American workers who were perhaps just getting used to the old boss.

Either way, more than 40% of employees surveyed in a Yahoo!/HotJobs (YHOO) questionnaire said a bad relationship with their boss--old or new--would be a serious enough reason to quit their job this year. That sounds pretty dire, considering the job market, but experts agree a bad relationship with a new boss can quickly result in: “I Quit!” or “You’re Fired!”

“When you get a new boss, that is a real danger point in your career because you’re dealing with a set of expectations based on your old boss,” says Dr. Marie G. McIntyre, a career coach and author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics. “You may have been the superstar and the fair haired child with the old boss. The new boss doesn’t know you from dirt.”

Expect things to be uncomfortable for a while during the transition, but do what you can to start on the right foot, beginning with MainStreet's job survival tips.

Who is this new boss, exactly?  Take the first few days to learn. “Observe your boss, pay very careful attention,” says Dr. Marilyn Puder-York, psychologist, executive coach and author of The Office Survival Guide. Some things to find out: Does your boss prefer emails over phone calls or in-person dialogue? How do they like to manage their time? “Try to get a sense of their style,” says Puder-York.  “You can lose a lot of credibility when perceptions are being built…It’s like a first date. It’s very important you don’t’ take huge risk in the beginning.”


Wait for the new boss to come to you. Know that he or she is probably a bit overwhelmed with the new environment and all that HR paperwork. If a week’s gone by and you haven’t heard from them, follow tip #3.

If your new boss hasn’t scheduled a one-on-one with you in the first week or two, take the initiative and set up a meeting. Don’t make it a brag session. Make it all about your boss. Introduce yourself, be welcoming and ask what your new boss would like to learn and how you can help. Be supportive. That said, be prepared to whip out your list of merits upon request. “Take that opportunity to inform your boss about all that you’ve been up to like your activities, your goals and your team’s goal,” says McIntyre.


If the transition is not going well, you should attempt to look at the situation objectively. Are you more upset with your boss because you’re being inconvenienced by the changes he or she is implementing or because he or she is a bad and ineffective manager? (Or both?) “Different isn’t wrong,” says McIntyre. “If the boss just doesn’t communicate the way you prefer, or have the policies you prefer, or make decisions in the way you prefer, it may be as much about you as the boss.” That said, if your new boss starts being abusive or hostile or begins making disastrous decisions, seek the help of your human resources director.


If you’ve been allowed certain “perks” from your old boss, like being allowed to work from home a few days a week or coming in late on Mondays, or refusing to own a BlackBerry (RIMM), the new boss may or may not approve. Dr. McIntyre says once you have completed tip #1, and have a sense of who your boss is, you have two options. The first is to assume your perks are approved and continue to go about your work. Or, you can advise your boss about your old agreement, just make sure to sell the idea. Explain how letting you telecommute can produce a lot more work; ask for permission and cross your fingers!

Remember, you don’t get to choose your higher ups. “If your boss is an idiot, you have to figure out how to work for an idiot,” says McIntyre. Just be sure to also start sending your resumes to other employers -- via your personal email address, of course.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.