Here’s an interesting statistic: According to a study done by PwC, CEO turnover at the 2500 largest companies in the world rose from 14.3 in 2014 to 16.6% in 2015 – a record high.
And it’s happened to all of us at some point. You’re just going about your business doing your job like you do every day and in comes a new boss.
You might not know this person or it might be someone who you knew was shortlisted but workplace conversation turns quickly to “hey, what do you know about the new boss?”
Very rarely does a new boss come in and continue the status quo. New bosses have new ideas and often want to make their mark.
For some this is a breath of fresh air; for others it causes fear and anxiety.
So how will you react? How will you deal with the change coming down the pipe?
A lot depends on what type of person you are, or more to the point, what type of person you choose to be.
Who are you anyway?
Things are just about to get pretty interesting around the office. That’s because a change in leadership (like any big change) will elicit some reaction. Everyone’s got his or her own way of dealing with it.
Whether you like it or not, change highlights who you are, and while you may wish to avoid the changes that accompany a change in leadership, you can’t forever. Something is bound to affect you.
How you deal with and thrive in the situation depends a lot on what kind of person are you, or more accurately, the type of person you choose to be and what you want.
When changes in leadership have occurred around me I have noticed these six types of reactions. Where do you fit?
1) Everything Sucks. (I’m pretty sure this is not you but I’ll bet you know someone like this)
These people live by “woe is me”. Their mantra - “everything is going down the tubes and there’s nothing I can do about it”. They spend a lot of time complaining about any change that happens. They’re never happy and never do anything about what they’re unhappy about. A new leader is just something else to complain about.
2) I’m Out of Here!
You hear this a lot if someone doesn’t like a new leader but very few people act on it because that’s an even more difficult change. Usually they adopt a “wait and see” attitude. If they do leave, chances are they can afford to because they have some kind of security that allows it.
3) I’m Scared And Not Sure What To Do.
These folks tend to lie low, stay quiet and wait. You may not see them for days or even weeks as they hide in their cubicles, poking their heads out to see what’s happening and run back in.
4) I’m Just Gonna Keep Doing My Own Thing.
These people don’t spend a lot of time worrying about a change in leadership unless something directly affects them. They seem to live under the radar most of the time. Being able to do this usually depends on their role in their organization.
5) I’m Thrilled Things Have Finally Changed Around Here.
After they have finished telling you how much better things are going to be about 50 times, you’ll see them suspiciously jumping around the office. They’re actually probably happier about the old boss being gone for some reason you’re not aware of. Then it’s back to the status quo for them. BTW - If they’ve now become a co-worker who drives you nuts you can read my post on how to deal with them here.
6) I’m Going To See What He or She Can Do For Me.
These people see a change in leadership as an opportunity to make things happen in the organization that may have never happened before. They get right in there and book a meeting and all of the sudden things start happening for them. Hmmm….
Don’t like your attitude? You can change it.
For many years I taught at a large music school. I was very lucky – jobs like that for musicians are hard to come by and I was a department of one. I had my own dedicated studio that I didn’t have to share like other teachers. I made my own hours, knowing I had to do a certain amount a week, and by choice interacted as little as possible with administration. (See type 4 above)
During my 20 years at the school, there were a few changes in leadership. Most often these new Dean’s were musicians who had moved into administration. They were usually from piano backgrounds and tended not to know much about my world of drums and percussion.
I do remember one Dean coming down to my sub-basement studio in a reclaimed part of the building after a flood. I could see she was worried about what else might live down there besides crazy drummers. After that I think she avoided me.
Aside from the occasional flood, being a type 4 worked pretty well for me as it allowed me to continue operating as I’d been doing which was fine for a time. I was able to do many things under the radar - not that I am going to admit to anything here. But when I think about why I liked being under the radar it was really about fear. I knew I had a good deal and I didn’t want all the freedom I had to disappear.
But after a little while I wanted to grow my program which meant buying instruments and offering new courses, both of which I couldn't do without the support of administration.
I began to realize that I had to change my approach. I had to become a type 6. I had to get in there, see who I was dealing with and figure out how to work with that person. My desire to expand would also help make the school better in terms of its program offering so it was a win-win.
This change in attitude helped me expand my program offering, get funding for new instruments and even get funding to attend out of town conferences in my field – something that very few teachers received.
In just a few short years I went from my private little (damp) basement studio to a new room up stairs with enough instruments to cover a stage.
I now made it a point to meet as soon as possible with any new Dean and tell him or her about what I was doing and my thoughts on how to make it better.
This new attitude helped me re-build my resilience to change. Read how you can re-build yours in my post How to be more resilient to change and learn why I said "re-build".
It's your choice.
So what’s the answer? What’s the right way to deal with a new boss? Well, I think you can see it depends a lot on what you want – how you want the future to unfold.
I have grown fond of the mantra - whether it’s a change you love or a change you don’t hate – it’s an opportunity, but I am the first to admit it took me a while to get there.
Three ways to move into change.
1) Be informed. Do your own research about your new boss. Bosses are people just like you and have likes and dislikes, goals and aspirations. Learn about what yours has accomplished and learn how they like to do business.
2) Try to be open-minded. Have a meeting, learn about the boss first hand, make yourself known and get your voice heard. If you like working where you are, you owe it to yourself to make the place the best it can be. At the very least, you’ll know with whom you’re dealing. Maybe you have some ideas to improve the place – what boss wouldn’t like to hear about those?
3) Don’t worry about what other people are saying. It’s way too easy to let others influence your opinion. Based on what you now know about the six ways people handle change in leadership, don’t you think you’re better off going with your opinion than anyone else’s?
Try to see the leader’s perspective.
When I do my presentations for corporate groups it is always interesting how people first walk into the room. To set the scene, my audiences come into the room and see strange musical instruments waiting for them, one on every chair. They have to move one to sit down.
Then there’s this new leader [that’s me] who they know nothing about standing on stage with a drum hanging over his shoulder. It’s definitely not a situation most people are used to.
Some people come in with their arms crossed, moving slowly to find a place to sit. Usually those folks choose to sit in the back row and choose a chair with a smaller instrument on it.
Others bounce into the room, almost running to the biggest drum in the front row right beside me. They will often engage me in conversation before the program begins.
They are the obvious ones and of course there are lots of type of people in between.
As a leader I need to find a way to work with all of them to get the results I need. My goal is to show them what we can achieve together – my vision and their ability. Yes, they have ability – they might not know it but I do.