Some brag, “I have had three different managers in the last year.” But no one likes that situation. People prefer stability. And most people I know get nervous when their manager changes.
It could be because they feel like they have been burned in the past with a really bad manager, and worry it will happen again. Fear of the unknown is powerful. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, maybe they have really enjoyed working for their current manager and had a very positive experience. So they expect the new manager will not be able to live up to standards set so high.
When your manager changes, consider taking these 3 steps:
- Talk to people who have worked for this manager before. Naturally, this is easier when your new manager comes from another team / department / business unit within your own company. This is harder when the new manager comes from another company altogether. But between both internal and external social media these days, where there is a will, there is a way to get connected to the right people. What you are looking for in these conversations are trends. You have to filter past personality and individual circumstances in life / career.
For example: Do others find this manager to excel at communications? Or might you need to plan to take the initiative asking (appropriate) questions because the manager is not known for readily sharing information? Better to know what to expect in advance.
- Re-adjust your own mindset. The way your previous manager operated was not right, and the way the new manager operates is not wrong (or vice versa). The two are just DIFFERENT. When you go into the new relationship with positive intent, expecting it to go well, you have a significantly higher likelihood of achieving that outcome. Try to let go of preconceived notions, even when the person’s reputation follows them.
- Prepare to learn. Undoubtedly the new manager will make changes. Some changes may happen quickly, while others may occur over time. Welcome the changes as opportunities for improvement and see what you can learn. Slow down your knee-jerk reactions. The new manager can learn from you, and undoubtedly, you can learn from him/her too. Figure out what you each bring to the table and how your skills and experiences may complement one another.
As you develop your own management style, make a conscious decision to pick and choose which aspects you do, or do not, want to take with you from the managers you have worked for over the years. I bet you can readily list the behaviors you admired of the managers you enjoyed working for the most. Take those with you and let go of the others.