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Dealing with New Bosses

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 8/11/2010

There is one category of employee who needs plenty of advice: for employees with new inexperienced bosses they've got to avoid generalizations, support the boss, and maintain a healthy working relationship based on a win-win approach and the right attitude.

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    Avoiding Generalizations and Pre-Assumptions

    Advice for Employees with New Inexperienced Boss The best approach toward a new and inexperienced boss is listening to what the boss says with an open mind, without being hypersensitive or making pre-assumptions, striving to establish a healthy working relationship. Generalizing an inexperienced boss as inefficient or unsuited to the position is a mistake many employees make.

    How best to deal with the new boss?

    The boss has become the boss for some reason. Inexperience is not the same as incompetence, and if the boss lacks the required experience, he usually makes it up with some other skills or generic traits. Contrary to the general impression, not all young bosses are impulsive, impatient, or insensitive. They usually bring forth fresh points of view, and the inexperience might actually be an advantage to demolish established inefficient yet sacred paradigms.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Leonum

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    Provide Support

    WIth the new boss being inexperienced in the work domain, the experienced employee would do well to guide the boss in operational aspects and act as a resource person for the boss. The boss became the boss in the first place due to competence or some other skill, and it is only a matter of time before he or she grasps the finer operational aspects and becomes familiar and experienced.

    Most bosses appreciate dependable employees. Acting as a resource person during the initial difficult period and helping with the learning process without being disdainful or trying to mislead increase respect and enhance the position of the employee in the informal power relationship hierarchy. On the contrary, trying to upstage the inexperienced boss is one of the best ways to commit professional suicide. Correcting the boss in public or pointing out faults leads to resentment.

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    Establish a Win-Win Relationship

    The best approach is to leverage impulsiveness, creativity, resilience, and fresh ideas. An approach to starting a clean slate with the boss, with the experience and consistency of the employee to establish a powerful working relationship, is based on a win-win relationship.

    While the boss learns the tricks of the trade and finer operational aspects from the experienced employee, the employee gets to learn people skills and other generic skills such as time management and other techniques from the boss, and at the end of the day, such skills count for far more.

    The key to reinforcing such a win-win relationship is by crediting the boss for his or her input and support when receiving praise for work well done.

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    Positive Attitude

    What is the best advice for employees with new inexperienced bosses? It is to maintain a healthy and collaborative approach by having the right attitude. A good collaborative relationship is a prerequisite for helping the boss and learning something from him. Building such a relationship depends on the attitude of the employee.

    The primary consideration from the employee’s side should be to respect the boss as the boss and obey orders. While the experienced employee can advise an inexperienced boss, the employee needs to follow the boss’s decision even if such decisions appear to be against common sense or business logic. The employee who follows an independent line takes responsibility for both achievements and failures, whereas the boss takes the blame for mistakes made by employees when following orders.

    While disagreements are common and accepted, bypassing the boss by talking to the boss's manager or adopting a confronting approach usually backfires. Such a stance rarely changes anything, and only adds to the boss’s resentment of the employee, making matters worse.

    A final consideration is to understand the boss as a person more than as a professional superior.

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    Best Advice for Employee with New Inexperienced Boss?

    Whether the employee likes it or not, working with the new boss is inevitable, and adopting a friendly, cooperative and collaborative attitude and striking a common chord based on core company values help generate success and a harmonious working environment. The alternative is stress, office politics, frayed tempers, and worse, making office work dreadful.