Your new boss may be a born leader – but that doesn’t mean she has a whole lot of solid experience in that department. If you’re dealing with a new boss who seems a bit green, you might feel frustrated or annoyed at her ignorance, but your employer didn’t think so when the new boss was given the job. You might not relish it, but your best bet here is to take a deep breath and to learn ways to cope. Here are a few things you can do.
1. Use patience
If the boss has never been a boss before, she’s still learning the ropes. That means she’s not going to have all the answers, and she’ll probably make a mistake or two. It can be painful to watch her commit blunders that are easily avoidable, but she needs time to learn by doing. Remember that she too is human and try to move forward.
2. Offer to take tasks off her plate
If your boss is having a hard time integrating into the new role, she may just need a helping hand to start learning the ropes. By offering to take a task or two off her plate, such as filing paperwork or issuing payroll, for example, you’ll not only help your boss, but you’ll also establish yourself as a go-getter with proven leadership skills.
3. Plan company-wide trainings
If you’re able, team up with your human resources department to plan trainings that your boss – as well as other employees – can attend. For example, you might be able to bring in a corporate consultant who can give a training course on marketing techniques to the lower-level staff, as well as a special seminar on effective leadership for the higher-ups. That way, your boss gets some help and isn’t singled out. To get started, ask for referrals from colleagues in your industry, seek out trainers at corporate events, or simply do an online search, and then bring the information to the attention of your human resources department. When you do, don’t mention that you’re concerned about your new boss. Instead, give reasons why the training could benefit the entire staff.
4. Use your employee review to your advantage
You can’t necessarily change your boss, but you can help her understand how she can help you do your job better. Your employee review is the perfect time to have a discussion about how you prefer to be managed. If the boss asks you what you need to do your job better, suggest something that’s focused on you, but also requires a change from her. If she’s micromanaging you, for example, you might say that you do your best work when you’re allowed time to work on a project independently before getting feedback. Taking this non-confrontational approach that puts the focus on you and your success instead of offering direct feedback could help her start to evaluate her own performance.
5. Talk to HR about serious issues
Patience can go a long way to helping your boss integrate and gain confidence in her new role, but in rare cases, you’ll encounter a new boss who repeatedly commits some type of human resources violation, acts in a discriminatory manner or otherwise breaks the law. A new boss who refuses to hire people of a protected race or gender, for example, could be violating fair labor practice laws. If you suspect something as serious as that, bring it to the attention of the human resources department or someone more senior than your new boss. If there is no one else, talk to an attorney about your options. Ideally, you should have some type of solid documentation that can confirm your story – or at least other witnesses you can call. Use this tactic only in situations that are potentially dangerous or illegal and not for petty complaints, or you’ll be pegged as a complainer.
If your boss really does possess the leadership qualities that landed her the job in the first place, she’ll start to "get it" more and more over time. With a combination of quality training, experience and gentle feedback, you might one day even forget that you once questioned your new boss’ abilities.