Sep 19, 2012
by Julie Leutschaft, mpa, mha, The Human Touch, LLC
New Manager Blues
I need your help. For the past seven years I have worked for an exceptional woman. She is supportive, caring, and an overall wonderful boss. She is a motivational leader, great teacher and someone who always has my back. We knew each other's rhythms and work patterns and she always trusted me to get my work done. Last month, my life changed. My boss retired and now I have a new direct supervisor. We have only worked together a few weeks but things are not going well. My old boss used to allow me flexibility in work schedule to attend my kid's events.
Now, I feel like I have to beg, plead and borrow to account for time off. The new manager is more controlling, less collaborative and I am having a hard time adjusting to her style. I'm still feeling the grieving pains of missing my previous supervisor. Do you have any advice on adapting to my new boss and her management style?
~ Kathryn B.
I see you've got a terrible case of the workplace ailment we call the "New Manager Blues." It's an epidemic for sure. Kathryn, for your sanity and basic survival skills, I recommend you appeal to her more friendly traits. Do whatever you can to bridge the gap. Seek to understand BEFORE seeking to be understood. Make an effort to focus on your commonalities instead of your apparent differences. You need to find out what is important to her and then let her know what is important to you (i.e. not missing your son's baseball game).
Ask if you can come in early or stay late and do whatever you can to support her in her new role. Get out of this melancholy doldrums so you are the victor. Once your new boss understands how valuable you are she will allow you more liberties to go back to enjoying the life you had before. Clarify expectations and make sure you are hitting the mark. Your new boss's management style may or may not be better than her predecessor.
It may just be different and one that you may have to accommodate. Invest some time in researching different leadership styles to better understand her perspective and individual motivators. Be better than your new boss and act in a servant leadership role. Be ready, willing and able to do what it takes to make her successful in her new role. Ask what she needs from you and deliver just that. If you wake up each day asking yourself "How can I serve?" you will be better off. Working in a servant role does not mean you are a doormat. It is more a quiet, inner strength.
My friend and colleague Wendy Duncan (motivational speaker and life coach) always says, "If anyone else makes you SAD, MAD or GLAD then you've been HAD." There is power in that. Don't let another person, in this case, your boss have control over your state of wellbeing. Only you control that unless you chose to give that control up to someone else. In order to be teachable you must remain reachable. If you hang in there, you might find an unexpected slice of utopia in this new Bossarella. It took me 25 years working in the field of human resources to realize that I cannot control how others behave, but I do have total control of my behavior, actions and feelings. Be the quiet inner strength and ride this one out a while to see where it takes you. Instead of fighting her new style try embracing it and see what comes.