Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Dear Coach Joan,
I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. It’s not working out with my new manager. I didn’t choose him and he didn’t choose me. When my former manager left, the company decided to bring in someone from the outside, presumably to inject new ideas. But all he seems to inject is sarcasm and criticism. So far, two out of five of his direct reports have left and he’s replaced them with people he’s worked with before. I think he’d be happy if I left, too, as he only seems to look for problems with my performance.
I’d like to stay at the company. I’ve been here for six years, earned two promotions and really have enjoyed my work. Please help. I’m not expecting a good review and I think the writing could be on the wall.
Appreciate your ideas,
I’m sorry, but you’re in a situation where change is being thrust upon you. You are in a burning building and the best advice is to get out before you really get hurt. The winds of career change are blowing and you need to pay attention and plan your next move. I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but you are not in an unusual situation. In this last month alone I’ve heard many variations on your situation: Employee has a multi year tenure with a positive track record of contribution and reward. New boss enters the scene. Neither side had chosen one another, it’s a bad fit and over time the team gets replaced.
My advice at this point is: Start your job search now. You can have a two prong strategy where you look both in the company and outside. But, if your manager clearly doesn’t like you or your performance, don’t be surprised if your internal reputation has been tarnished. I’m sorry, but that happens often.
But let’s rewind for a moment and pretend you had written to me when you just inherited your new manager.
And for those of you reading this article who’ve just inherited a new boss, please pay attention and read carefully.
Here’s what I would have recommended:
- Set up a 30 minute meeting with your new boss.
- Do a lot of preparation and come in with an agenda. It includes:
your key contributions, the skills they represent, your aspirations, work style and your desire to continue to contribute, grow and take on new challenges
- Plan some excellent questions: How have direct reports been successful with you in the past? What is your preferred communication style? What are the key skills and behaviors you are looking for in this position? What are the key outcomes you’d like to see?
In other words, get to know his definition and style of success. Reflect it back to him and try to keep him apprised of all your work and accomplishments. That is putting your best foot forward for success with a new boss.
Then watch and see if he’s consistent and if he gives you the opportunities he has promised. If you collect the data points and they point to a negative situation, then start your new job search.
Yes, we need to all learn to see the signs that the winds of career change are in the air. Your career change winds are clearly blowing, Bill. Best of luck to you and please, get moving!