Nerd Journey 025: Adapting to a New Manager

Welcome to episode 25 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode, we discuss tips for adapting to a new manager.

Original Recording Date: 2019-02-07

Topics – Adapting to a New Manager (The Silver Episode)

2:50 Scenarios that could lead to working under a new manager

  • Scenario # 1: Current manager promoted / terminated / leaves the company
    • The new manager could come from within or come from outside the company.
      • Is John the manager killer?
    • It’s possible you could take over as manager.
  • Scenario # 2: The reporting structure changes.
    • Nick shares an example of this happening multiple times at a previous employer.
    • It’s possible you could work for someone who used to be your peer even though your role did not change.
  • Scenario # 3: Taking a new job at your current employer
    • It could be a new role under a different manager.
  • Scenario # 4: Taking a new job at a different company
    • New manager, new team, new culture to adjust to
  • Scenario # 5: Your manager leaves the company, and you follow the manager to a new company

9:18 How can you adapt to a manager change?

  • Keep being yourself.
    • You are in your position for a reason.
    • Know yourself, and be honest about your capabilities.
    • Making big, sudden changes could affect job performance.
  • Get to know the new manager, and allow him / her to get to know you.
    • It’s ok to talk about personal details to find a common interest.
    • Your proximity to the manager will determine how the first few interactions happen.
    • Managers need to get to know how you do things (processes, etc.).
  • Be positive, and have a helpful attitude.
    • Guard against letting fear poison everything.
    • If you are asked to change something, try to change it without fear.
  • Keep your previous ideas for improvement in mind, but don’t expect things to change immediately.
    • It’s ok to plant a seed for change, but use caution. Listen to John’s example.
  • This is a clean slate.
    • What if you loved / disliked the previous manager?
      • Be fair to the new manager, and don’t compare him / her to the previous manager.
      • Acknowledge the change, and roll with it. Give him / her an honest shot.
      • Listen to our scenario about change control processes to illustrate.
  • This is not a time to air all grievances.
    • Think about how you will be perceived if you focus on the negative.
    • Attach a metric if you’re suggesting a change.
      • Looking for impactful inefficiencies is a nice place to start. Maybe "grievance" isn’t the right word.
  • Get to know the management style.
    • What are the expectations of you?
    • How does the manager measure success?
      • Relate your suggestions back to these metrics.
    • Is there a department vision?
    • What is the preferred method of communication with your manager?
      • This could be different based on the conversation that needs to happen.
      • Be clear about level of urgency when you approach your manager with a concern that needs action.
  • Avoid gossip about the manager.
    • Don’t be that person.
    • Shut down complaining from others.
  • Differences in staying at the current employer vs. moving to a new employer
    • You’re more likely to have good connections for intel on a new manager within your current employer (assuming the new manager was not an outside hire).
    • The interview process may be all you have for information gathering when moving to a new employer.
      • See our episodes on reasons not to pursue an opportunity part1 and part 2 for more on this.
    • Treat these tips as context-specific.
  • John’s process for this situation
    • Change nothing at first. Demonstrate the baseline of how you do your job to give a fair inspection of your work.
    • Interact with the manager, and explain the context of your process. Ask for feedback.
    • Over time, establish a new baseline of expectations.
    • Change things gradually to be sustainable.
  • Give the new manager a chance.
    • The goal is to make your manager look good so the department can contribute to the greater goals of the organization.
    • It’s unreasonable to expect nothing to change over the course of your career. Change is constant.
    • You can learn from anyone (good habits and bad habits).
    • You can control how you react to every situation.
    • Caffeination can help. 🙂

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