Introducing Yourself to the New Boss

Last Updated Jan 21, 2011 2:08 PM EST


Getting a new boss can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time. After all, the person who now holds your career in her hands didn't hire you.

So handle your first meeting with her just like you would a job interview, suggests career coach Priscilla Claman. Her absolutely brilliant advice: Get yourself "hired" by the new boss.

Writing on HBR.org, Claman advises:

  1. Update your resume. This may be in the traditional sense, or may be more of a presentation. In any format, focus on your recent accomplishments.
  2. Set up a meeting. Ask for an appointment with your new boss on your own. Treat this like an interview -- be on time and act professionally.
  3. Present yourself. Start by saying, "Let me tell you about my role and my team." Review the resume or presentation you prepared, highlighting your own achievements and those of your team. Don't let this be a one-way conversation. Find out what you can about your boss's interests and needs.
And whatever you do, don't sit back and wait for her to make the first move. "My experience with over thirty mergers is that those who keep their heads down lose out, and those who take initiative survive."

I'd like to underline Priscilla's advice to "act professionally." It can be easy to go into your initial meeting with a new supervisor with a know-it-all attitude. You want to prove your worth, so you start dispensing unasked for advice on the back-stabbing corporate culture, whom to avoid in the hallways and ways to cut corners when ordering supplies. Bury that impulse, for obvious reasons.

How have you approached a new boss? What worked, what didn't?

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(Photo by Flickr user bpsusf, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.