It’s been my experience that the best people are transferred or promoted at
least once every three years. Add this to the overall increase in turn over in
many industries and it’s almost inevitable that at some point in your career you
will unexpectedly get a new boss. However, it’s how you handle the transition
that makes all the difference. So, don’t just sit there – genuinely embrace the
possibilities the change can bring.
View the transition as an opportunity, not a threat.
Don’t be scared. Despite what you might have heard from others, and even if you loved your old boss, be open to the fact that a new boss might be even better. I’m not saying ignore what others say, but don’t pre-judge what might happen for you.
Back in 2005 I was hired by the then CEO of Kraft Foods (KRFT, +0.00%). I moved my family halfway across the country to take this new role. Approximately eight months in, the CEO was unexpectedly replaced, and a new leader was appointed. Given that my role required a high degree of trust and personal interaction with the CEO, I was concerned that the new CEO — whom I’d never met — was going to sack me just because she hadn’t hired
me. This is by no means unheard of in my type of position, so it was a valid concern. But in the end, not only did the new CEO not fire me, she gave me additional responsibilities.
This same scenario has played out with nearly every management shakeup I’ve faced.
Once the new boss is on board, you need to quickly learn what their priorities are. Why? Because you can’t help them succeed unless you understand what they are trying to achieve and why. They may tell you this directly or you may have to figure it out for yourself. Either way, figuring this out is critical to your success. So open your ears and eyes and learn all that you can about them – their style, preferences, motivations, goals, etc. The better you know and understand them, the better you’ll be able to work with them.
Embrace your chance to teach someone the ropes.
A new boss often gives you a chance to be the teacher. This is a great opportunity for two reasons. First, learning how to brief someone and help them grasp new material effectively are critical leadership skills — ones you’ll surely need to advance. Second, when you have a chance to teach someone, you have a chance to help frame their thinking. This is an opportunity to influence the new direction they are likely to set.
Champion the changes that follow.
Every smart leader knows you need to always leave a role and/or organization in better shape than you found it. Your new boss will want to put their own stamp on the company. Don’t fight this. Instead, be honest, helpful and engaged. This is the best way to ensure that the changes they make are ones you’d make yourself — if you could. It also helps position you as a trusted advisor and an indispensable ally – something every new boss needs.
Let go of any resentment.
Most people don’t like change, but it’s a fact of life and work. So find ways to
become more agile and adaptable. For example, even if you were passed over
for the role, and wish you’d gotten the promotion, don’t sit around and
bemoan the situation. That won’t change the decision and it can quickly make
you someone the new leader wants to eliminate. Instead, work hard to
understand why you weren’t chosen this time and do your best to get ready for
next time. If you’ve proven yourself worthy to this new boss, chances are they
will either fight to take you with them when they move up or they will fight
hard for you to replace them when they move on. Either way, it’s a win-win for you.
Perry Yeatman is the CEO of Your Career • Your Terms® a company dedicated to helping women build the careers and lives of their dreams - from launching on the right trajectory; to surviving the mid-career marathon; to thriving within the executive ranks. Perry’s unique approach combines a deep understanding and passion for career advancement with decades of real world experience as a global business executive, C-suite consultant and award-winning author. This enables her to achieve transformational results for her clients. To learn more about what she can do for you, go to www.yourcareeryourterms.com or contact Perry at Perry@yourcareeryourterms.com.
This post originally appeared in Fortune.com