Money at 30: Why a New Boss Could Mean New Opportunity
For my column this week I thought I’d step just slightly outside of my normal personal finance beat and talk business. Then again working and, in this case, potentially getting a raise/promotion do directly affect your finances, so perhaps it’s not so different after all. Anyway, this past week I came across an article in Forbes titled “3 Smart Moves People Make When They Get a New Boss.” After reading said article, I was actually somewhat flattered as my past experiences would indicate I am, indeed, a smart person.
Yes, back in my previous life as a movie theatre manager, I embraced the rotating slate of General Managers (this was when I was at a small arthouse location that tended to serve as a proving ground for greener GMs) and used this as an advantage to further my own career. In fact I don’t think I would have reached the level of Senior Manager had that not been the case. That’s why I’m excited to share some of what I learned from that experience in hopes that you too can turn getting a new boss into a positive experience.
A second (or third, or fourth, etc.) chance at a first impression
When you get a new boss there’s a lot of starting over that happens. Most notably this time often brings a period of navigating a new working relationship and could change the dynamic of any given team. However this fresh start could also be a chance for you to make a strong impression and gain someone in your corner.
When I first got promoted to Assistant Manager at my theatre, I made a lot of mistakes as any newbie would. Unfortunately such errors tend to stick in the minds of your boss even after you’ve grown and learned from them like I had. That’s why I was excited to get a new boss who would now only know this better version of me. As I said, I think this was instrumental in my success later on.
Making your goals known
I remember the day that something changed about me and I decided I wanted more from my job. Born partially out of a desire to learn new skills and build a resume as well as a desire to make more money, I decided I wanted to pursue the position of Senior Manager. There was just a minor problem: being a small theatre, we only had one such position and it was taken. Not ready to leave the little indie theatre I loved just yet, I decided to stick it out and see what happened.
The first piece of luck came when we got yet another new GM. Prior to his official start day our outgoing manager assembled all of us to meet the new guy one morning. Although only casual attire was required for this introduction, I decided to wear a button-up shirt and tie in an effort to make the most of that all-important first impression. A few weeks later, after the new GM had some time to get a feel for the building and see me in action, I mentioned that I was interested in moving up. Cut to a few months later, when that Senior Manager position at our theatre opened up, my new-ish GM was 100% behind me and even pushed the District Manger to give me the job (this was rare since most Assistant Managers are transferred to other locations when promoted to Senior).
Reading that story you might get the vibe that I was kind of a brown noser but I swear that wasn’t the case. Additionally I believe there’s a lot to be said about the timing and subtlety of my approach. Had I pulled the new GM aside after that morning meeting the first day and told him what I wanted, it may have come off much differently. Instead, being able to prove myself first made him want to help me reach my goals instead of simply rolling his eyes. In other words you need to establish a relationship first — otherwise your boss might feel as though you’re just looking to them as a meal ticket.
Suggesting new ideas
One side effect of working with the same team under the same leader for an extended period of time is that everyone gets set in their ways. In some cases this can mean that perfectly good ideas are shot down simply because your boss is happy enough with the status quo. Luckily, with new blood at the helm, you may find a more receptive audience for your ideas.
Again, just as in our last section, timing is important here. You don’t want to bombard your new boss with all of the ideas you have for improving things that second they walk through the door. Let them get a lay of the land first before speaking up and presenting your pitch.
Building a collaborative environment
Of course it’s also important for you to be open to new ways of doing things as well. I can’t tell you how many times we got a new GM who would want to tweak one of our processes only to be greeted by groans from the team. In many cases it wasn’t even that the idea was a bad one — people just wanted to reject it without merit.
Instead of growing bitter about your boss’s suggestions, try to give them a fair shot. Then, if you still have concerns, maybe you can raise them and present a better alternative. Doing this could also help build a collaborative relationship between you and your boss that will certainly come in handy down the road.
I should note that, while I’ve talked mostly about my own experience and the way the company I worked for was set up in this piece, I do realize that, in some cases, your new boss will be another co-worker and perhaps even be someone who was awarded the job over you. In these or other cases, the advantages I’ve laid out sadly might not actually apply. Still I hope these thoughts will get you to look at the bright side of getting a new boss and maybe even use it as an opportunity to further your own career.