Office Coach: Prove yourself an ally to new boss

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Question: Ever since our department was transferred to a different area of the company, morale has been going downhill rapidly. The main reason for this decline is that we have begun reporting to a new vice president. "Greg" is an aggressive executive who seems to have a "my way or the highway" attitude.

In addition to being very tough on employees, Greg ignores all suggestions made by the managers who supervise them. As members of the management team, we would like to convince Greg that we are really on his side. We just want him to go a little easier on the troops. Any ideas?

Answer: After a reorganization, people often make the mistake of firmly maintaining that past practices should be continued. But even if this advice is well-intentioned, management can easily view it as resistance to change. Therefore, if you wish to show Greg that you are "on his side," you need to stop suggesting and start listening.

Instead of pointing out Greg's missteps, ask what he hopes to accomplish with your group. Once you understand his goals, you may be able to show how your proposals could help to achieve them. You should also find out why upper management decided to relocate your department, since their expectations will undoubtedly influence Greg's decisions.

When presenting suggestions, choose your words wisely. For example, if you say "go easier on the troops," Greg may hear "accept mediocre performance." But if you propose a structured process for helping employees adapt to new standards, he may view that as helpful. In short, if Greg believes that you are open to his ideas, he may be more willing to consider yours.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach; www.yourofficecoach.com.


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