Top 10 Tips for Breaking In a New Boss

Whether meeting a new boss through your existing job or a completely new one, how you manage the transition -- and this important relationship -- can either enhance or derail your career. Here are 10 ways to get off on the right foot:

1. Know why.

Find out what brought about the change. Was your boss promoted or were there conflicts with superiors? Had there been dissatisfaction with how your group was performing? Knowing what led to the change will help you devise a plan to succeed in the new order of things.

2. Get acquainted.

Ask for your boss' impressions of the department and how you can be of most help during the transition. Find out what his or her priorities and pet peeves are. Learn her working style, so that you can respond appropriately. Does she like to be kept updated through phone calls or e-mail? Is she interested in details or only in an overview? What kinds of decisions does he want to be involved in, and when should you make the call on your own?

3. Show support.

Once you've identified what the boss cares about most, focus on those areas so your boss will feel some ownership and have a stake in your success. Treat your boss as your most prized client. Help your boss get up-to-speed on the organization. Demonstrate that you are more interested in his needs than in your own agenda.

4. Listen more than you talk.

Remember, your new boss is sizing you up, too. Answer all questions honestly and carefully. Refrain from using the words "can't" or "impossible." (Unless your boss suggests something illegal.)

5. Clarify mutual expectations.

At the same time, shape your boss' perceptions of what can and should be achieved. It's a good idea to get any bad news on the table right away, so that you can lower unrealistic expectations. Before committing to goals, get corresponding commitments on resources. Tell your boss what people, funding and knowledge you need to succeed.

6. Offer solutions, not problems.

Don't go to your boss with a problem until you've thought through some possible solutions.

7. Don't dis your co-workers.

When offering advice or analysis, don't gossip about your colleagues. Nor should you downplay or criticize their importance. More often than not this will undermine your credibility and make you appear untrustworthy.

8. Identify the boss' allies.

Find out who the boss respects and is influenced by. Watch how they approach and interact with your boss. Make sure you develop good relationships with these people as well.

9. Score some early wins.

Pursue results in the areas your boss considers important. Some quick wins will help build your personal credibility and lay the foundation for a strong alliance.

10. Go beyond the call of duty.

The best way to expand your responsibilities is to take on new challenges. Volunteer for projects and tasks that are not part of your job description. Your boss will undoubtedly be impressed by your initiative and versatility. And the experience you gain may allow you to reinvent a new role for yourself.

Next: Worst Boss Stories -- Ever! >>

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