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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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kimberly Quile April 23, 2009 at 1:07 am

SERIOUSLY!!!! I’m all for adjustments..but MAN!!! there is also something to be said about laziness!!! I am a SUPER positive Christian person and I tell you…the first thing I thought of was This woman sounds lazy!!! Her actions of NOT addressing customer issues AND NOT filling positions shows VERY clearly that she is making changes… so I don’t agree with Renee on that one. Of course I am aware there are 2 sides to every story…and we have only heard Jerry’s through his wife…I definitely agree not to encourage gripe sessions AND to be active in helping to keep morale up! Even the best players in sports that FAR outweigh the talents of their coach…still have a coach! Think about it..Michael Jordan…who could seriously play some basketball….had a coach that wasn’t no where near as skilled! It matters NOT whether she was promoted from inside or hired from outside…unless she was given the job by connections OR ability/skills! If it was because connections…well that pretty much tells you buckle up and change your attitude cause nothings going to change…and if by skills..brother hang on and stay strong! If she doesn’t change for the better…It will become obvious! The higher ups will see AND make changes! Take heart Jerry’s wife! Pray for your man to have endurance and creativity! Pray for yourself to be patient,loving AND understanding! THAT will bless him! If you still see no change…maybe God is calling him to another place!
In His name, Kim Q

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Laura April 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Al of these solutions are assuming Jerry is a whiner. Maybe the Manager needs to be spoken to by someone in higher management.

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Renee April 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Excellent response! The scenario does not indicate if the new boss was promoted or a new hire. If she is new to the company she may be trying to access the processes and flows and adjust to the culture of the new workplace. If she came in and started making changes and demands, morale would be even worse!

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