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Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss?

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Change can be unsettling, especially when it involves your job.

Change can be unsettling, especially when it involves your job.

Welcoming a new boss as your manager transitions to a different role with the company is one adjustment almost every worker is likely to make at some point.

Even if you've heard good things about the incoming supervisor, doubts are likely to remain. Will you be able to establish rapport with him or her? What will your new manager expect of you? How will the person's work style differ from your previous supervisor's?

While it may seem like much of the transition is out of your control, you have a large role in how smoothly it goes. In fact, your attitude and approach will determine how productive and rewarding the relationship eventually is.

Here's how to start on the right foot with a new boss:

* Make the first move. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor so the two of you can get to know each other. Use this time to discuss your role, learn about your supervisor's expectations and find out how you can support your boss's top priorities. The discussion should serve as the basis for ongoing communication with your new boss.

* Be a resource. Share any information that can make the person's transition a little easier, such as the names of your department's contacts in other areas of the company.

Many employees are reluctant to approach new supervisors with feedback or advice. But in a survey by Robert Half International, 40 percent of executives said it's common for managers to oversee projects for which they have limited experience. So, your input could be valuable. Just be sure to offer your opinions tactfully.

* Don't look back. Unless asked, it's generally best to avoid talking about the way things used to be done under the previous manager. Your new boss may have fresh ideas and solutions that benefit everyone.

* Aim to please. Pay attention to your supervisor's preferences. Does your boss seem more responsive when you stop by his or her office with questions than when you send emails? Does your manager want frequent updates on projects or allow employees plenty of autonomy? Adjust your work style, if needed, so you're in sync with your boss.

* Have an open mind. Above all, don't forget that your boss is new to the position and, in some cases, the company altogether. Like any new employee, he or she likely needs time to get accustomed to the role. Even if things aren't going as smoothly as you would like a couple of weeks or months into the transition, don't be too quick to judge, and maintain a positive attitude.

Working for a new manager can bring a great deal of uncertainty, but there also is potential for positive changes. Welcome your supervisor with an open mind and supportive attitude, and you will set the stage for a strong working relationship during the transition period and beyond.
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