Just as you thought you were about to finally clinch that promotion or raise, you hear that your boss is leaving. Rumor has it that his replacement wants to restructure your department. Now you're wondering if you'll even have a job at Lean & Mean Inc. three months from now.
While many people sit back and wait for the new boss to contact them, it's much better to take the initiative. The more you show your willingness to take orders from the new leader, the greater the likelihood that you'll become part of his or her team. Don't settle for the sort of group gatherings that some bosses use to introduce themselves to the ranks.
Promptly ask for a private meeting to discuss your work together. You can make your request in person, by telephone, or -- if more than 10 people will be reporting to the new boss -- through a memo. "Congratulations on your selection as vice president of planning," you might begin orally or in writing. "I look forward to working with you, and wonder if we could find a time to meet briefly -- for about 20 minutes -- to discuss pending projects and your priorities for the department."
Prepare for the meeting by outlining the major points you would like to cover. You'll definitely want to reiterate your enthusiasm about working together, and be ready to deliver (from memory) a three-sentence summary of your background and key accomplishments at the company.
Most of the meeting should focus on pending projects and additional assignments that the manager wants you to begin. Ask about future plans, and identify some of the ways you could help. People who can think on their feet may be able to make suggestions on the spot; otherwise, a follow-up memo works just fine.
Try not to raise the ghosts of bosses past. ("Peter Popular always liked to discuss the results of my research before I drafted a report.") Instead, find out what the boss prefers. ("Would you like to discuss my results before I write the report, or would you rather just see a draft?")
Be aware of your body language: arms folded across your chest or hands clasped in front suggest you're putting up barriers. Better to keep your hands parallel in front of you, and lean forward slightly in your chair.
When the meeting seems to be winding up, thank the boss for his or her time, and offer a chance to raise any other issues -- now or later. "I hope we can touch base again soon to be sure things are coming along OK," you might say.
Give your relationship time, but don't blame yourself if things don't click. Do your job and be on the lookout for new opportunities.