Working with the new boss at your operation

April 15, 2019 By    
Employee around water cooler stock: Spend some casual time around the water cooler, strike up a personal conversation. Photo iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Employee around water cooler stock: Spend some casual time around the water cooler, strike up a personal conversation. Photo iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

We have talked in the past about working in a family business and the obstacles to this model.

In so many family-owned businesses, employees are literally family or long-term employees who are just like family. I imagine you’re thinking right now, “Gee, that sounds like my office.” Bottom line, it can be difficult to work alongside close friends and relatives.

I recall a scenario that occurred early in my career. I was a manager in a large, decentralized business. The business was growing at a fast pace and those of us who had been with the company were being selected for next-level positions. My closest friend and ally got promoted to general manager in my market. Suddenly, I was reporting to him.

I was skeptical because I knew he could be tough on people and, in my opinion, didn’t always think through situations thoroughly and tended to make decisions on the fly. Yet, no matter what I thought, I knew that I was going to have to step up and let him know that I was on board.

Once I had this conversation with him, he relaxed, too. He even came to me on many occasions to ask my advice on some challenges he was having with his team. We worked well together in that capacity for about four months; I was promoted and moved into a different region.

All said and done, it doesn’t always look quite this rosy, especially when it’s happening to you. Here are some tips to help you navigate your own transition:

  • It’s important to buy in and show your new boss you’re a willing and committed team member and you will be there to help him or her through the transition.
  • Don’t forget, this transition will be tough for your new boss, too. Be open to change and explain to your boss that you’re there to help. Expect some changes to occur right away and be supportive. If you can be a part of the change, your boss will be grateful.
  • Don’t get upset if your new boss questions or criticizes your work. The new boss now has an expectation of you that you have to answer. Learn how to accept constructive criticism. Express your gratitude for the feedback and move on in a positive manner.
  • Be a positive influence. Some team members might not feel great about the change. Be a role model and explain to co-workers that the new boss is in a transition and that you have a responsibility to be positive and make it work.
  • Don’t expect to receive special treatment based on your personal relationship. This would be unprofessional and would put your new boss in a difficult position both professionally and personally.

Far and above any advice that I have, the most important is to maintain a professional demeanor at all times. Never gossip with co-workers about your boss in a negative tone. This is considered career suicide and is highly unprofessional.

Change is not something many of us jump into very quickly, but if you can take a positive approach to the situation and keep your eyes wide open, it just might be the best thing that could ever happen in your career.


Ask Cathy Wallace of San Isabel Services Propane in Pueblo West, Colorado, about employee-related issues.

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