Suppose you’re about to have a new boss. What could you do to make the best possible impression?
This is the challenge a couple of my clients have recently had. Here are some of the strategies which I’ve found particularly effective over the years.
Firstly, think of the first meeting between you and your new boss as the equivalent of a job interview. If you were going for a job interview what would you do? So do what you’d do then.
You’d certainly prepare your CV. Go one step further: ask yourself what three things would you most want your new boss to know about you? Get clear what these are and how you can speak fluently and briefly about them.
Second, look at what they need. Are they new to the organisation, new to the role or both? So what in your view would it be good for them to know? How might you bring them up to speed? If you had to orientate them what would you say? Prepare some kind of orientation review where you can acquaint the new boss with what has been happening and what are the upcoming challenges as you see them.
This is a chance for you to demonstrate your grasp of business priorities and the bigger picture. The more you come across as a credible witness the more you position yourself as a potential colleague worth consulting.
Third, if you’ve been standing in for them til they arrive ask yourself if you’ve been comfortable with the level of responsibility you’ve been working at. If yes let them know when the occasion arises. It’s a good idea to let them know because they will then have a better sense of your skillset and potential.
Fourth, something else which is going to make a big difference is the comfort factor. Three elements in particular are worth focusing on. You knowing how best to work with this person has got to be useful. There is no reason why you should be able to mind read this. Ask the new boss how they like to work. For instance ask them how they want to be briefed by you. All at once or do they want it spaced out? You’re making it clear you know people have different styles and you wish to tailor your way of working to their needs.
What does that do to somebody? They feel attended to and engaged with.
Anybody who has direct reports needs to know that they are competent and can be trusted. But if you really want to stand out your boss needs to know that you will do two other things – make them look good and warn them about danger. This can give great comfort. Ask yourself can you be somebody who your boss feels will always help them to be seen in a favourable light? Can you be someone who will always alert them when there is a problem likely to arise? Do this and you begin to be an ally.
Once you are perceived as a skilful, resourceful ally you have enormous value to your boss.
Getting ready to meet the new boss, means preparing before they arrive. That means stepping into their shoes to see what they need. If you are in any doubt, once they’re in post – ask them.
If you want to maximise your opportunities you need to begin to pro-actively define this crucial working relationship. Too many people stay passive and that’s a shame.
But please remember you don’t have to do all these things in the first ten minutes!
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