Managing People

How to Handle Change to a New Boss

Changing to a new boss can be especially difficult. This post highlights what you can do if the boss is the problem, and steps you can take to excel even so


I find it strange that one of the most constant things in life is also one of the things humans resent the most, and that is “change.”

Usually, when we are comfortable with something, we don’t want anything to change that. This is probably why there are a lot of inspirational quotes with messages like “All the success you seek exist outside your comfort zone.” Noted inspirational-quotes-people!

One area where change is inevitable is at work, and especially in your team members. The truth is, no matter how comfortable you get with your team mates, they will change from time to time. People move away, people get better offers, people decide to stop working and travel the world (these people, I envy), etc.

So if you had a boss that you worked really well with, or at least trusted and respected, you may find adjusting hard if this person decides to leave.

But often, this is not because you miss the person (not saying it’d be weird if you did or anything), but because, someone else has to become your boss and you need to learn, anew, how to work with this person.

The problems that can arise in this situation can be grouped along two lines, viz:
– When you find it challenging to adjust and warm up to the new boss. (When you are the problem)
– When the new boss is a pain to work with. (When the Boss is the problem) 

When You Find It Hard To Warm Up To The New Boss

I recently read an employee’s complaint about how many of her coworkers resent and criticize their new boss, just because she’s new. From the account, there was no basis for the criticism, but they just found it hard to warm up to her, and this led to a gossip tirade.

Truth is, this is by no means a unique occurrence. Working with a new boss takes some learning, and more importantly, some adjustments – two things that may upset people who are used to a routine.

What can you do if you find it hard to work with your new boss

1. Realize that things are going to change
This is the genesis of most complaints about a new manager. Your manager did not get to his/her level by following whatever they see on ground. In fact, they may have been brought in to change the way things are done.

Whether that is so or not, learn to go with the flow, as long as no obviously horrible decisions are being made.

2. Develop a relationship with your new manager
Keep it in mind that this is a person you’d be working with into the future, and someone who will have much say in your career. It is in your best interest to take steps to develop a relationship with your new manager.

Don’t go overboard though. If you send a gift to a new manager for example, that could be perceived as trying to solicit for extra favor or special treatment.

Instead, try to be really helpful to this person, especially when he/she is in the process of learning how things are done in the company. This is one great way to develop a relationship.

3. Avoid gossiping (like the plague)
If there’s a new manager you’re struggling to warm up to, chances are, many of your colleagues are having the same experience. Many workmates approach this situation by forming gossip rings. And guess who’s up for discussion, everyday!

There are two terrible effects that could result from this. First, it will enforce any negative views you have about the new manager and make it increasingly difficult to work with this person.

Second, you know the fun thing about gossiping (and this is really fun, except of course if you’re the victim, or the perpetrator, or anyone else), it almost always reaches the ears of the victim. And just think how your manager will love working with you, after hearing all the nice things you have to say about them.

Enough said.

4. Discuss duties and expectations with your new boss
In this article in, an employee complained that she can’t seem to do anything right in the eyes of her new boss. In response, Alison suggested she asks her manager for feedback on her activities. Good advice!


It is however best to be proactive. Do not assume you can continue in your routine and get your boss to like everything you do. Not going to happen.

Instead, fix a meeting with your boss, explain your current activities, and ask your boss if he/she will like to see anything change, and what his/her expectations are from your role. 

When the Boss is the Problem

In some cases, your new boss may just be difficult to work with. For example, while it is normal for a new manager to make changes, it is not expected that they change EVEYRYTHING, even small unimportant details, and that is exactly what some do.

If you find yourself under a new boss who is difficult to deal with, criticizes you relentlessly, treats you badly, etc, here are some steps you can take to preserve your job, and your sanity.

1. Speak to your boss
If for example, your boss is unhappy with your work and you can’t understand why, approach him and politely ask what you are doing wrong.

You could say: “I observed that you are not pleased with my work, I don’t quite understand what I’m doing wrong, could you please point out the things you’d like to see me do better?”

At best, you will get better insight into your boss’s thought process, however skewed, and learn how to adjust to work better with him.

At worst, you can put your mind at rest that you’re not doing anything wrong, but just have to cope with a horrible boss.

2. Cultivate a strong relationship with other colleagues
Alison suggests this step, and the logic behind it is self-evident. When your relationship with your new manager is not good, your relationship with others becomes even more important.

If anything comes up, other colleagues can come to your defense, and if you need references in the future, others can help.

Do not however use these relationships to gossip your manager.

3.Report your boss
If your boss exhibits behavior that is harmful to you, your colleagues, or the company, then you can report your boss to people higher up, or HR.

If HR addresses the issue properly, things may improve. You may also be able to drop in an anonymous report, if the issue is not such that it’s obvious you are the complainant.

Reporting, however, should be your last resort. HR may sweep the issue under the rug (especially when it’s not a very big issue) and you may end up with a boss who dislikes you twice as much.

4. Search for other opportunities
If all else fails, and you conclude having this person as your manager is harmful to your career, bring out your resume. I wouldn’t advice anyone to work in a clearly toxic environment as this can have serious effects on your health and professional life.

Start seeking other opportunities, while being as nice and accommodating to your current manager as you possibly can. 

By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

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