I have a new manager who has come in with a different management style. I am trying to be open-minded and adapt, but it's hard not to miss the way things were. What tips do you have to help me navigate the transition?
Dear Retrospective Rose,
Things just keep changing don’t they? As much as we may want them to stay the same, they inevitably change. This can be exciting but also anxiety-provoking as newness typically brings uncertainty, and we humans don’t do well with not knowing what’s to come. Unfortunately, this is the pandemic-driven state the entire world has been in for almost two years. Adding to this change, what may have previously been a stable and predictable aspect of your life is undoubtedly going to be a transition. So, how do you get through this?
First, acknowledge the loss: You lost your old manager and possibly a friend. You’re missing the way things used to be, so I’m assuming things were good. So let’s just take a minute to accept all of this and to give you space to grieve. You’ve experienced a loss and that is something you should allow yourself the time to process. I feel like we treat the workplace very differently from our personal lives, but the reality is you probably spend more time working than you do doing other things, so it’s important to acknowledge the change and its impact on you.
Once you’ve done that (or as you’re doing it because it may take some time), I would treat this new manager and the change it brings for what it is – a new relationship and a new opportunity. It’s like when you start dating someone new: yes, we inevitably compare them to our ex, but we also know that we shouldn’t because the dynamics will be different. We need to learn how to navigate this new space together. So just like you would with anyone with whom you’re building a new relationship, get to know them. Try to understand where your new manager is coming from, what their work/management style is, what their goals are, and in turn, help them understand yours. What do you need in a manager? What do you need to be successful in a workplace? If you can take time to have this conversation with your new manager, then you’ll be better situated to go into this new working arrangement with a better understanding of how things will move forward.
Now, this baseline conversation will hopefully help you better understand your manager’s style, which you’ve mentioned is different from yours. Maybe you’re used to being able to take lunch whenever and now you have to set a particular time. Or you’re used to working more independently but now your manager wants to be more involved. Whatever the difference may be, you may need to make some adjustments to the way you used to do things. Maybe some of these adjustments are a good thing and, though different, will help you and your team. Others may not be so great in your book, but it’s important to try to at least understand the “why” behind the situation. If you’re not sure of the “why," then ask. Don’t go in with a “this is not how we used to do things here” mentality, but more of a “hey, I would love to understand more about this.” Hopefully your manager will be able to provide this insight.
It’ll definitely take some time to adjust and there may be some awkward moments or misunderstandings along the way– that’s normal in any new relationship. As long as you’re willing to be open and honest about how you feel and address the situations and differences as they arise, that will hopefully ease the transition. Also remember, this person is also going through a transition and probably more so if they are new to the organization. So take your level of discomfort and amplify that to try and understand theirs as well. That’s something you share and can work on together. You’ll need to give each other the benefit of the doubt and hopefully over time learn how to work together in a way that best serves you both.
P.S. Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, I’m curious what the amazing community of educators reading this post has to say. Chime in, folks! What thoughts do you have for Asking for a Friend? Share your thoughts on the Global Leadership League’s LinkedIn page. Have a question for Sophia yourself, ask here!
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