There are many reasons why you might experience a change in managers. Perhaps you are a new hire to an organization. Or your current boss is replaced by another leader. Maybe you have changed teams and are now reporting to someone different. Whenever one of my clients experiences a change like this first they want to know how to align with the new boss. They want to learn all about that person as quickly as possible. But they are stumped on how to do that. Here are some general guidelines that might help if you are having this challenge.
Do your research. It is a common best practice in business to look people up on LinkedIn and read about their background. Also, many senior leaders have their biography listed on the company website. Some people ask others about their new boss or ask that person’s former direct reports. It helps to gather information from various sources to get different perspectives.
After doing some initial research, schedule a one-to-one with your new manager. This is a way for both of you to get to know each other. It should be a two-way conversation, but here are some things you will want to find out:
Management style – What type of leader is this person? How would they describe themselves? How would others describe them? Are they primarily hands-off or highly engaged?
Accomplishments – What are some important highlights of their career?
Communication style – This is important! Do they prefer to communicate by email, phone, or face-to-face? Do they like a lot of detail or high-level information? How often will they be conducting team meetings?
Managing up – What do they need to know from you? How often do they need updates? How should those updates be communicated? Do they support you having consistent touch-base meetings with their boss (your skip-level manager)?
Delegation – What is their philosophy and method of delegation?
Development of direct reports – What experience do they have in developing their people and helping them get promoted? What is their philosophy about it?
Expectations – This is critical! What are their expectations for you? This means goals, deliverables, and metrics. And how do they plan to support you so that you can meet those expectations?
You will have to determine the best way to ask these questions so that it is a conversation, not an interrogation. It may take several meetings to accomplish this because, remember, they are trying to get to know you also. But it is important to start building a relationship immediately with your new manager. That person will be an important advocate for you throughout your career. Although these guidelines can be used by people with new managers, you can also apply them to a manager who is not new. It is never too late to get to know your current boss – no matter how long you have been reporting to them. Challenge yourself to develop a deeper relationship with your boss and see how it can transform your career.