You’re cruising along. Work is going well, and you’re eyeing how you’re going to get your next promotion. Then, suddenly, your boss leaves or is replaced. You’re reporting to someone new—and you’ve got to prove your worth all over again.
“Everything is about relationships, in both our work lives and our personal lives. The ability to establish great connections is what helps others understand us and what we have to offer, and building that connection with your new manager will help not only showcase your value to the company, but also help build a trusting and positive relationship going forward,” says Jana Tulloch, human resources professional at talent development solutions company DevelopIntelligence.
But how do you build that relationship so you can showcase your worth in a way that doesn’t come off like braggadocio or seem off-putting? Try these seven tips.
Use Interview Techniques
Think back to the interview that landed you the job in the first place, suggests career expert and speaker Robyn Tingley, author of 10 Essentials for the Motivated Millennial: A Guide to High Performance for New Grads and Career Starters. You had to impress the hiring manager and HR personnel without crossing the line into obnoxious. Use some of those communication techniques, where you work in descriptions of times you made a difference.
“You’re, in a way, vetted, but you can’t assume that your new boss knows all of this,” she says. Because it’s a new relationship, try to carve out time for “networking” with your boss—going for coffee or simply getting a few minutes of focused discussion time, where you can share your achievements and how you can be of assistance.
Be A Guide
When you get those moments, show how you can help your new boss learn the ropes, Tingley suggests. If the person is new to the company, you can help fill them in on the shorthand and the way things are done, so they don’t always look “lost.” But even if they have been with the company for a while, but are new to the role, there are insights you can share about people, processes, and other matters that will be valuable, she says.
Such guidance builds trust, which is good for any relationship, says Jeff Skipper, CEO of Jeff Skipper Consulting, an executive strategy firm. As you provide this “historical information,” you’re not only acting as a guide to the new supervisor, but you have opportunities to share previous experiences and contributions in context. You can say something like, “‘This is what I’ve been engaged in over the last [period of time], and here’s how I’ve improved it,’ or, ‘how we’ve improved it,’ so you’re fair to your team,” he says. Then, you have the opportunity to share new ideas you have, which can further prove your value to the team.
Look For The Need
Do some homework on your boss and their past accomplishments. What were they known for at their last firm? Did they receive any awards? What have they told you about their goals for their new role? These facts will be indicators about what your boss is going to need in her new role. Will she need to find new suppliers or vendors? Will there be reports or research that need to be completed? Talk to your new boss about what she’ll need to accomplish new goals and provide suggestions of ways you can help.
Be Open To New Ideas
Those new goals and plans are likely going to involve some new ideas and new ways of doing things. One of the quickest ways to derail the relationship is to be resistant to positive changes your boss is trying to make, Skipper says. Now is the time to be open to new ideas. Even if they seem like they’re going to create more work or be inconvenient in the short-term, try to look at the bigger picture and be supportive. You might be surprised at the value your new boss brings in creating positive change.
Adapt To Their Style
Ask your new boss questions that help you understand how he prefers his teams and individual staff to work, Tulloch suggests. “Are they a hands-on manager who prefers to be kept in the loop on every issue, or do they prefer to only be looped in when there’s a major obstacle? Find out what they feel are the priorities for your department, and be able to confidently speak to how you contribute to those priorities when appropriate, such as during task or project update meetings,” she adds.
As you start working and working on projects for your new boss, set up some quick wins. “That is all about managing your deliverables so you over-deliver on deadline and quality,” she says. Use your leverage in the organization to build connections and help your new boss shine. It’s a simple way to build good will quickly, she says.
Don’t be afraid to speak up when an opportunity presents itself. If there is an event, project, issue, or report that you’re able to help out on, let your new manager know, Tulloch says.
“It’s not about offering yourself up to every need, but to target those that you feel your skills match with and where you think you can make a great contribution,” she says. This not only showcases your willingness to pitch in, “but may also provide access to others within the company that you may not normally interact with, which can help boost your own internal reputation,” she says.