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How do you get on the same page with a new boss?

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 Question: “My immediate supervisor recently left the organization. As a result, I now report to the agency director. In our one-on-one meetings, he often seems bored or distracted. I always take extra time to prepare adequately for the meetings.
I come ready with possible resolutions to any problems and facts to back up my recommendations.  All this preparation is usually met with a very brief response or a push off to another manager.  When I asked whether he’d like me to run everything through another manager before coming to him he responded, “No, I want you to report directly to me.”
I am a very independent worker. Despite this independence, I would like some direction once in a while. I can’t help but feel devalued as an employee by his actions. What can I do to make our meetings more engaging?” — Anonymous

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara February 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I am very interested in the answer to this situation.


Abraham Turaani May 12, 2009 at 5:40 am

Most of the discord at the workplace whether between boss and subordinate in both direction or between colleagues occur becauase of a breakdown in communication…..this is typical in the absence of rapport….Many atime you have to set the stage and ask the boss pointedly that you would like his undivided attention for a few minutes… Go in prepared to be brief and to the point without the “superfluff” mode. Remind your boss that you’ll be happy to follow his dicatum and that you need his help and insight.


Jocelyn May 8, 2009 at 2:56 pm

When two employees begin working with each other it is always more difficult. Your new manger probably has alot more to do now that he has taken on more duties and staff, so I am sure that your preparedness is of value to him. Maybe he is harder to get to know then other staff but I would keep doing what you are doing and time may warm the situation up a bit. Maybe you could also try asking him if there are other tasks or duties of his you could help with since you are sure he is busier with all the changes.


admin May 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm

It may be communication style between you and your boss. It sounds as if he is a short bottom line type guy and that may be what he wants from you. Have your most important items ready to discuss 1st that you need answers if you get the grunt then just say that you assume this is acceptable. Then just go on to the next. Don’t take it personal that you boss is not interested I have one like that also but as long as the work is done quickly and cleanly then there is not a problem


Anonymous May 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Thank you for weighing in. I will try your suggestions.


Anita Filas May 4, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I would recommend that you meet with your boss at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit for both of you. You should determine what time of day is the best for him. I once worked for someone who worked out every day and we would meet as soon as he was back in the office. Suggest to him that he keep a list of things to review with you so that these meetings become two-way. If he is distracted by email, things on his desk, etc., suggest meeting in a mini-conference room. Give it some time and good luck.


Ilja Kraag May 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm

At your next meeting ask your new boss what he expects from you. What does he want you to bring to him and how. Does he want to know everything or just the global idea? Does he prefer email over in-person meetings? Tell him that you are willing to adjust to what and how he wants you to report to him. Even bosses are not always good in communicating what and how they want to get information. So, ask him.


Pat May 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

All of the other ideas are great. I would add one thing. If you know another person who has worked or is currently working under him, talk to them. They may be able to give you some insight on how he works.


Lisa May 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Remember, it takes time to build a relationship with a new boss. As another poster suggested, if your boss seems distracted, I would ask if there would be a better time to meet with him. [My former boss used to do this a lot; lots of time, he would check his e-mails while I was talking to him! Drove me crazy until I figured out what to do: to ask him if he’d rather have me come back later. That almost always worked; it helped him realize he wasn’t really paying attention to me.]

Try not to get discouraged – you seem to be making lot of effort to do a great job, and it can be disheartening to be brushed off. It seems like your new boss’s communication style isn’t great (too abrupt) but keep at it. As you end a meeting with him, paraphrase back to him what your couse of action will be . Ask if he’d prefer that you provide him with updates via e-mail (some people aren’t great one-on-one communicators). And as you get more comfortable with him, ask him for feedback on how things are going. It might open up a dialogue for him to tell you what he needs.


celt365 May 1, 2009 at 4:10 pm

When he seems bored or distracted, call him on it. Politely of course but bring the matter to his attention. Ask him if you should come back at another time since he seems to be working on something else. Say “You seem to be working on a more pressing matter {or something more important}. I’ll check back in an hour to see if you are free to dicuss these items.” Then leave the room. Go back to working on what you were doing. Check back and if he’s still busy ask him to contact you when it’s a better time. If he never calls, then only go to him when you need direction on something. He’ll either learn not to waste your time or that you can work without micromanagement. Then your time won’t be wasted.


Val Carter May 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

It might be a question of style, body language and tone of voice. If you get an opportunity to see how he responds to someone else that he actually connects with or is more engaged with, try to integrate some of their style, tone of voice, body language and style of communication and the way their material is prepared and presented. That might give you a clue to what he likes and what his preferences are. He may not be able to tell you this himself. We all relate to people a little differently and don’t always no why.


Amy May 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I would explain that while you are able to work independently, occasionally there are items that you need some direction on. Ask him how he would prefer you communicate those. Maybe he could focus better if you sent them in an email. Or maybe you could outline them for him in your meetings and then ask him when he would be able to follow up with you on them. Also, when you talk to him in your meetings and need a firm answer but he doesn’t respond, I would say, “Can I assume you are okay with me proceeding with the plan I came up with?” It might take a while to “learn” him, but as you keep paying attention and tweaking how you approach him, you will eventually settle into a groove and have better communication. Good luck!


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