Last week I was chatting with a colleague about the topic of changing bosses. During my own career, I’ve had the experience of getting hired by “Paul” only to arrive and find “Jim” in charge. It’s rarely easy.
I wasn’t alone. In her wonderful (but sadly out of print) book, Thursdays Till 9, advertising superstar Jane Trahey described her first copywriting job at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas. She too arrived to find a new boss in place and, as she writes, “I was all hers.” Fortunately, the boss left after a year or so and Trahey soon took her first steps to running the show.
So…what if your boss changes soon after you arrive?
Some people come equipped with easygoing personalities.
Most people like them and they know it. Godzilla could be their next boss and they’d do just fine. Their new boss will probably keep them on because of the likeability factor. It helps if they’re also really good at their jobs, but I know at least one person who thrived simply because everybody liked him and he was just a good guy to have around.
At the other extreme, managers try to hire employees who will fit in to their organization.
“Jim” feels a spark when he talks to applicant “Harry.” They’re from the same city, fraternity or college. They both follow the Lakers. Or they just click.
On some level, Jim realizes Harry’s a misfit but hey, he’s willing to take a risk. Maybe he knows he won’t be around long and wants to leave the company a farewell gift — someone who definitely can’t be his successor.
And six months or a year later Harry’s working for Julie. Julie soon realizes Harry’s a misfit and (consciously or unconsciously) decides Harry needs to go. Julie needs to look good in this job and can’t afford any loose cannons, which misfits often turn out to be.
Finally, some new managers will decide to bring on their own team, for reasons that have nothing to do with you.
They may be facing a tough situation so they want to get familiar faces around them – people they’ve worked with on previous jobs, so they know who can be counted on. Some honestly believe they need to make some changes in order to establish their authority. Some decide to reorganize the department so they need to hire people with different skills and strengths.
So bottom line, it’s a combination of personality, fitting in and just plain luck. If you’re an edgy personality and/or a maverick, you have to be more cautious and stay more marketable than your more easy-going, easy-fit counterpart. But if someone new arrives, you do need to assess the situation and decide what your next step will be.
If you’d like to talk over your next step, check out the Career Strategy Session. We’ll explore your options and chart out your action steps in a single session. Clients tell me they’ve gotten more out of this one session than three months (or more) with traditional career coaching.