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New boss distressing you?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “My husband, ‘Jerry,’ has become quite distressed. After five months as the acting manager of his group, he now has a new boss who is very different from his previous manager. She is slow to act on issues like resolving customer problems or filling open positions. He has tried to talk with her about this, but she is not a strong communicator. Employee morale is sinking, and Jerry feels responsible.  What can he do?” — Worried Wife

Marie's Answer: Getting a new boss almost always means a change in leadership style. Because Jerry had the “acting” role, this shift may be especially tough. Nevertheless, if he plans to stay in this job, he will need to adjust. Here are some strategies that might help resolve the conflict:

•    Jerry should focus on trying to help his new manager succeed instead of complaining or criticizing. He needs to accept her for who she is and figure out how to work with her. 

•    Adapting to her slow decision-making style may require patience. But Jerry can also compensate by reaching clear agreement on schedules, reminding her about important issues and taking independent action when appropriate. 

•    He should use a tactful approach to convey the problems caused by delays. Example: “We have a customer issue that’s been pending for a while. If we don’t address it soon, we might lose the account. Would you like me to follow up on it?” 

•    Finally, if Jerry really wants to improve employee morale, he should discourage gripe sessions about the new manager and try to help his co-workers adjust. 

For additional Office Coach advice on management transitions, see Strategies for Surviving a New Boss.

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