You have worked in a highly collaborative culture for nearly ten years and thrived. Recently your senior manager was replaced through an external hire. The difference in management style is apparent – like night and day. His commanding style obviously fit his previous employer’s culture. But you wonder how it will affect the collaborative team culture that has helped you and your teammates achieve excellent results.
What’s driving this style – a personal or positional agenda? What’s alarming is that in the first few weeks, he has shown no interest in learning how the department has operated up to now. It’s clear he has a mandate however he hasn’t revealed what that is and whether it’s his choice or management driven. You have not had an autocratic leader for a long time and have decided to take a wait and see approach. Whatever approach you take there is a price to pay.
The first two months in a relationship sets the stage. Newness gives both of you a grace period to establish an effective working relationship.It’s important to determine the agenda for each of you. A leader can come to a new role with a variety of mindsets. You need to determine what you observe that to be and how it differs from what existed with the previous leader. You need to sort through what will or won’t bring out the best in you and your areas of responsibility.
Wait and see can lead to ‘what gets rewarded gets repeated’ behavior. Many individuals decide to wait and see however this approach can be detrimental especially if the differences mean fulfilling your responsibilities will be adversely affected. When you compliantly go along, a new leader will often take that as affirmation they are using the right approach.
The longer you comply and reward their behavior, the harder it is to break the pattern. Especially, if you find challenging authority difficult. As tempting as it is to wait and see how things evolve, whatever you give in to during the first two months, will set your new leader’s ‘expectation groove’.
What’s better being deliberate upfront or having to do damage control later? It’s worth investing time and effort to determine whether adapting your behavior to be deliberate in the initial stages is better than creating the need for a relationship renovation later on.
High expectations go both ways. In today’s demanding work environment, it makes sense to expect as much from your leader as you give. Utilizing the grace period of the first two months strategically can achieve better results than a wait and see approach.
How could you use the grace period of the first few months to influence working relationships?