Making the Best of a New Boss

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Career Advice | 6 comments

If there’s one constant in business it’s the constant of change. Many times employees bear the brunt of this change.  Organizations restructure departments and managers come and go. Getting a new boss is one of the most stressful changes an employee will experience.

I speak from experience on this topic. In the past two and a half years at the same company I’ve had four different managers. Every time I got word that my manager was changing I was filled with anxiety, frustration, and fear. What if I don’t like my new boss? What if he or she doesn’t like me? What if we have incompatible work styles? What if the new boss is demanding or wishy-washy?

A good boss and a bad boss can make or break a job. Great leaders know people leave managers, not companies. So what can an employee do? Are employees at the mercy of their manager?

Each time I got a new boss I did some things wrong and some things right. The biggest mistake I made when getting a new boss was focusing on my manager instead of my performance. My situation greatly improved when I started working with my new manager to accomplish common goals, focusing on my own productivity.

Additionally, when I stopped keeping a mental list of all the things I didn’t like about my new boss I started noticing my new boss had a lot of great qualities and made my work experience better in many ways.

While a manager’s leadership has a major impact on his or her employees, the employee’s attitude and actions are equally important. You have a greater influence over your job than you may realize. A purposeful and productive attitude not only improves your experience, it will positively affect your situation. Your new boss is likely to respond to your positive attitude with friendliness, support, and encouragement.

Each time I got a new boss without changing jobs I learned effective ways to manage the change. Here’s how can you make the best of a new boss?

Focus on today

Your old boss is gone and you may be happy or sad to see him go. Either way, it’s time to leave the past in the past and work with what you have today. Your new boss may be better or worse, but you’re guaranteed to feel frustrated and stuck if you spend too much time comparing what you had to what you have.

Remake yourself!

Getting a new boss is a great opportunity to enjoy a fresh start. Decide what kind of worker you want to be and be that. Use this opportunity to build your best reputation.

Find common goals

Talk to your new boss and find out what his or her goals are for you, for himself, and for the department. Discover common goals and work together to accomplish great things! Focus on solutions, not problems.

Be helpful

Offering help is an effective way to break the ice, get to know someone new, and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Networking starts with giving.

Being helpful is very empowering! Don’t forget, you have awesome skills to contribute!

Discover new opportunities

The change in leadership may bring new opportunities for you. Maybe there’s a skill you’ve want to learn, or a training you want to attend that your new boss will support. There may even be new positions opening up if your company has recently reorganized. Discover what opportunities are available to you and make the most of them.

Give the new boss a chance

Being a manager was a much harder job than I realized and being a new manager is harder! Your new boss is a human being, and as such he is likely to make mistakes just like you. Give your new boss a chance to settle in and learn the ropes because that’s the chance you’ll want your employees to give you when you’re the new boss.

Interacting productively and positively with your new boss will improve your work experience and your relationship with your new boss. Avoid complaining and focusing on the stuff you don’t like. Instead, seek collaboration and opportunities and make the best of your situation, even as it changes.

Much of what happens at work will be out of your control, what you can control is your attitude and behavior- make the choice to put your best self forward!

working with a new bossImage courtesy of Nicola Corboy

I love your comments! Have you had a good or bad experience with a new boss? What did you learn? How did you deal with getting a new boss?


  1. Hi!

    I have had had a bad experience with a boss and the key is to take it slow and talk to out. Sometimes the boss just wants to come across as authoritative and wants to establish the sense of hierarchy within an organization. But when it becomes troublesome it needs to be sorted out. If the boss is approachable, then talk it out and see where and what is going wrong; but if it is not, then you don’t have to change your attitude.

    Either learn to let go of it or learn to find other outlets. And just having patience to overcome it and go on!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Hajra!

      I, too, have experienced a new boss that is so concerned with making an impression they take it a bit too far. I love your suggestion to talk to your boss if he or she is approachable to try to work together on any problems that come up. I like to believe most people are generally good-natured and good-hearted and want to do a good job. Like all of us bosses are not above making mistakes and having a respectful and open conversation can solve problems. It’s certainly better than quietly resenting a boss for his errors in judgment!

      I appreciate your other suggestions of letting it go, finding another outlet, and having patience to be very effective in making the most of work relationships. People are different and yet we still have to work together whether we like it or not. We can find ways to make the most of the situation or we can choose to be miserable and unhappy- guess which one I choose?

      Have a grateful day!


  2. An interesting topic! The company I work for recently went through an organisation re-structure and I found myself reporting to my colleague. It was hard to accept my peer as my boss but your article has made me realise that its really more my attitude instead of what I found to be unjust and unfair to make this relationship for me. Thank you for that. Sometimes the ego gets in the way of what can be a fruitful and productive relationship.

    Thanks for the helpful tips.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Bina!

      Making the transition from peer to supervisor is a challenge. I have found many work situations to be unfair and unjust and ruminating on this point too much makes me frustrated and unhappy. At some point I will stop and realize that even though the situation may be unfair doesn’t mean I have to suffer because of it. I can choose to find small ways to adjust my perspective and make the best of what’s in front of me. I’m thrilled to hear you’re willing to make the best of what’s in front of you!

      Have a grateful day!


  3. How refreshingly different to find someone who’s not afraid to talk about being successful in a ‘job’ instead of always and only bashing work for hire. There are plenty of great companies out there to work for and as you’ve pointed out, to a large degree the employee experience depends on attitude.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Marty!

      Being successful in a corporate job is one of the reasons I started this blog. I see many blogs and articles that focus on getting out of the workplace to live your dreams but everyone has different dreams. Working for yourself isn’t a dream for everyone, nor is it a reality. And I have found that placing your success and happiness on your situation isn’t likely to bring the happiness you seek. I have found true happiness comes from appreciate what I have right now and making the most of it!

      No matter what your business or career, attitude plays a bigger role in success and satisfaction than any other factor.

      Have a grateful day!


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