What to Do When You Meet the New Boss

“My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” That famous quote from Forrest Gump sure holds true when it comes to getting a new boss. Even if you’ve worked with an incoming manager before, you never really know what the person is like as a supervisor until you’re their direct report.

Are you in for someone who’s a micromanager or easygoing? Outgoing or reserved? Direct or wishy-washy? You just don’t know until you meet the new boss.

Here’s the thing: Your new manager is wondering about you and your coworkers, too. What kind of staff are these people? Are they competent enough to take a project and run with it or will I have to stay on them every step of the way? Are they reliable?

Those initial days and weeks when you’re getting to know one another will set the stage for your future working relationship. Want to make a positive impression with your new boss? Here are some tips:

Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s natural to have an opinion right away about a new boss, but be careful. That manager who’s constantly behind closed doors the first week may not be ignoring employees, but instead may be stuck on conference calls with senior leadership.

Don’t get involved in office politics, including listening to the grapevine, either. You know, those stories like, “Oh, I heard he expected everyone on his team at ABC Company to work Saturdays.” Wait and see what holds true when you actually meet the new boss, in the same way you’d want the person to have an open mind about you.

Talk to your new boss. If your manager doesn't schedule a time to meet individually, take this step yourself. Ask what the person would like you to get done in your role and how your performance will be evaluated. And smile! Show a little enthusiasm.

This is also a great time to tell your new boss of your talents that may not have been used in the past. Maybe you’re a whiz with PowerPoint but your previous supervisor preferred to create her own presentations and your skills were never tapped. Speak up.

Stay out of the past. “But that’s now how our old manager used to do it,” is a sentence that should never come out of your mouth. Ever. You’re basically telling your new boss that you think he’s doing things the wrong way. That’s poor office etiquette and not exactly a wise career move.

If your supervisor asks how things were done in the past, by all means, share your insights. Otherwise, respect that changes are ahead and those fresh ideas may be an improvement over old ways.

Be flexible. What is your new boss’s management style? Pay attention to the little details and adapt your own work habits around them. You may notice your manager is less frazzled early in the day and time your important talks then. Or maybe she responds faster to voice mails than emails.

Be that person who adjusts quickly and embraces new leadership. It won’t go unnoticed.