, ,

How Do I Manage Up to My New and Busy Boss?

Maybe you are new to your agency or organization. Maybe you’ve made a transfer, or a new boss was hired from outside. If you have a new boss and he or she has a full plate, here are some ways you can build a strong working relationship and help them help you be successful at the same time.


If you haven’t already established a regular schedule of meetings to plan and update your work product and goals, get feedback and keep each other up to date, ask your new boss if they would like to meet each week for 30 minutes or would rather have an ad hoc schedule. If you plan to meet each week in person, be sure to share any key documents/working drafts/background materials the day before you meet so your boss has a chance to give them a read.

Also, have the points you want to discuss ready, but be flexible if you don’t get to cover everything.

Your boss’s boss(es)

Be sure to let your direct supervisor know if their boss(es) ever reaches out directly to you and/or assigns you work. An easy way to handle this is to tell your boss in-person or by email, “Jane, John stopped by earlier and asked me how I thought the project was going. I told him …” This way your boss will not be caught off guard.

Turnaround time for reviews

Your boss probably has a full schedule, so when you need a piece of work product reviewed, you should schedule it with him or her. “Jane, if I get you a draft of my report by next Tuesday, how long should I plan for you to review it? How’s your schedule next week?”

Quick questions and FYIs

It’s important to clarify with your new boss how they want to handle quick questions and FYIs. Do they prefer emails, having you stop by, phone calls? Don’t be afraid to ask. Be sure if you are communicating by email your subject lines are clear and include “quick question” or “FYI.”

Your growth interests

Everyone has a job description and primary responsibilities and deadlines. But if you are looking to stretch, don’t be afraid to share areas you would like to grow in with your new boss. The key is that your growth interests will need to be developed alongside your day-to-day responsibilities, so be prepared to put in some extra time to get assigned to that new committee, to be invited to attend a special conference, etc. outside of your regular duties.

Joyce Warner is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Sherrie P. Mitchell

I like how you mention the turnaround time for reviews. I made this mistake not too long ago and failed to leave my boss enough time to review a document that I had always finished up previously at the last minute.

Isaac Constans

These are great pieces of advice! I know from my career history how odd it can be transition from an open-door policy to a much more formal office. It definitely helps to have an established chain of command, as well as a mutually understood communication platform.