For better or worse, our bosses aren’t going to be around forever. With an upcoming election and the new executive order that might make thousands of federal positions “at-will,” it’s possible that more of us than usual are going to experience a transition with our management. Even without these factors, supervisors change all of the time. They could retire, there could be a reorganization or they could be removed.
So what should we do when it’s our boss that creates that void? Here are some tips for what to do when your boss leaves:
Take a Breath
A change in supervisors can often lead to a mess of questions:
- Why did they leave? Is there something wrong with my organization?
- Who is going to take their place?
- How long will we be left without permanent management?
- What are things going to be like with a new supervisor?
- Am I next? What if I don’t like this job anymore?
If you’re like me, these questions might play on repeat until they are eventually solved. It’s important to take any kind of change and transition one day at a time and take a breath.
This is no different with a change in management. Worrying about what’s going to come next might seem productive, but it’s not. While there are certain steps you can take to make the transition smoother, remember that you can’t control everything and you will not know everything.
Stay Focused on the Mission
At the end of the day, whether your boss is there or not, the job needs to get done. If your supervisor has set your team up for success, you don’t need them around much except for the occasional guidance. They have cultivated good leaders within the team itself and are there to support the team in the event that something goes wrong. So in these instances, a change in management may not have much of an impact.
But we aren’t all so lucky. We’ve all had micromanagers or managers that felt like they should do all of the work themselves. In these instances, a transition might be a breath of fresh air, but could leave us feeling a little lost. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the true purpose of your team and why you are there.
Be a Team Player
Management transition is never easy. Chances are there is going to be an uptick in work until you have a new supervisor. Even then, they will need some time to get into the thick of things. This could be a great opportunity to take on new kinds of projects that you may not have had the chance to work on before.
You can offer to take on some of the things your supervisor would normally do, like attend meetings to increase your visibility with your peers. If you are a more experienced employee, you could also step into more of a mentorship role with staff that may not be as seasoned as you. Stepping up your game will not only help your team, but could also look attractive to upper management. Who knows? Maybe you could be the next boss (if you want it!).
Hit the Reset Button
A change in management can be a struggle or a fantastic opportunity. Many times we find ourselves on teams that feel a little stuck due to poor management. A change in management can provide the opportunity to explore new ideas and creative ways to achieve your team’s objectives.
After a manager leaves, call a meeting with your peers. Discuss next steps and ways that you can make the most of this new situation. Now, this isn’t meant to be a “boss bash.” You don’t want to turn this into a gossip session. This instead should be a candid discussion of roadblocks that your team has experienced and things you’d like to see change with a change in management.
You can also do this for your own benefit with the new manager once they come in. Make sure to set aside some time with them to get to know their management style and see what their intentions are for the group. Showing your own interest in them can allow you to also express your goals and objectives, and give the new manager a better sense of how you and your team work.
Myranda Whitesides is a Performance Support Specialist for the Interior Business Center, the Department of Interior’s Shared Services Center. She conducts personnel and payroll systems training for over 50 federal agencies, as well as providing training in Diversity and Inclusion for her peers. Myranda also serves as the Education Co-Director for the Mile High Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), coordinating Educational content for Human Resources professionals in the Denver Metro area. Myranda also enjoys singing, camping, and exploring local breweries and restaurants with her husband, Daniel.