Tips for Survival When You Have a New Manager Every Time You Blink

2 min read
Sep 26, 2016

Organizational change

In these challenging times, turnover is just a fact of life, and your boss isn’t any more immune to the winds of change than you are. Company priorities shift, people leave for other positions and organizations, some lose their positions in layoffs, and, yes, some just get fired.

When the person you report to is constantly in a changing, it’s hard to keep your bearings or know what you’re supposed to do to stay productive and keep your job. Harvard Business Review recently brought together some experts to come up with recommendations for what to do if you find yourself in this unsettling situation.


Some Top-Level Takeaways: Dos and Don’ts


  • Find out, if you can, if a new boss indicates a change in direction for the company
  • Accept that you’ll likely need to be flexible enough to adapt to the way your new manager likes to work
  • Get to know your new boss personally and professionally as you would any other new coworker



  • Waste time focusing on how much work adapting to each new boss means for you — your time is better spent doing the adapting
  • Forget that your new boss probably brings useful knowledge to the situation, whether that’s in the form of skills or a fresh perspective
  • Speak negatively of your last boss to the new one, which would reflect poorly on you, and if your old boss finds out, well . . .


Invest in the New Relationship

It doesn’t matter how long you imagine your new manager will be your boss — the relationship an employee has with their superior is the framework on which everything hangs. To start with, you have no way of knowing if your new boss spells trouble for your job security. According to Priscilla Claman of Career Strategies, “the person who hired you will always love you more” than the new person does.

Set up a meeting as soon as possible, and treat it like you would a job interview. Talk about successful company projects you’ve worked on and “talk about who you are, how you work, your strengths, and your goals,” says Reb Rebele, Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) instructor at the University of Pennsylvania.


Do Some Reconnaissance

If your new boss means upper management is pursuing a new vision for the company, you want to know, so see what you can find out via the company grapevine. Maybe the new direction will be better for you, or worse, but you need to know what the future holds.


Be Positive and Adapt

Act as if your new boss will be yours forever since you can’t really know otherwise. Try to enjoy adapting to, and learning from, their new perspective and skills. Avoid negatively comparing new processes or goals to the old — the past is the past. And hang onto that flexibility since you may have to repeat this process all over again before you know it.

A new boss makes more work in the short term. There’s no question about it. But it’s something lots of people experience again and again these days. If you want to stay at your company, do everything you can to not treat the change as a threat but instead as an opportunity to refresh your professional life.



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