Q: I love my job, but a big reorganization in my department has put me under a new manager who has no idea what I do or how to help me. It’s a discouraging situation. What should I do?
Tabitha, 38, manager, customer experience
A: Choose not to give up.
Change can be hard, and it can feel especially challenging when you are not in the driver’s seat. However, trite though it may sound, you do choose your reactions. Let this be your source of empowerment.
Think about how you cope with change in general. You may be in the habit of being somewhat defeatist about it, expecting the worst. Not only will this limit your adaptability, you will have way less fun in your life. Or, if you are generally excited about change, consider why this one may be hitting you more negatively.
How much do you know about your new manager? If they are new to the company with this reorganization, they are probably a blank slate. If they have been with the company a while, you might have some direct experience or have heard things, positive and negative.
One way or another, you’ve drawn conclusions that they won’t be a good manager for you. To turn this around, look for ways this situation can work for you.
Consider what you expect from your manager. Their job encompasses both management and leadership tasks, ranging from assigning tasks, training, maintaining quality, mentoring, removing barriers, and ensuring a good quality of work life for their team.
Among these roles, are you expecting your manager to know exactly how to do your job so that they can explain all the details? If so, keep in mind that as you move up in an organization, this is less likely to be the case.
Moreover, the challenges you face will become more about leading and managing, so having matching technical knowledge should not be as important. Their ability to help you learn to navigate, organize, and inspire is far more valuable.
That’s not to say that technical challenges are not important. You can — and should — go to your new manager to get help finding the resources you need. This is a good example of their role in removing barriers to your success.
Think about other ways to solve your problems, too. Work within your team to help each other, saving the tougher issues for your boss.
I also wonder how much of your distress could be eased through more communication. If you haven’t done so, request a meeting where you can provide an overview of your role (keep it high level) along with the types of challenges you face.
Taking a proactive stance will give you energy and also make a good impression. Bosses like team members to show initiative and bring forward solutions.
Then do another assessment. If your new boss is curious, willing to help you, and is someone you respect as a person, you’ve got a strong foundation for a good future working relationship.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and owner of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.