My City Manager Left – Now What?

A change in city managers can create a lot of stress but also can create new opportunities for a city's employees

BLOG POST | Aug 29, 2017

by Miranda Lutzow, administrative services director & city clerk, Waterford, California   

 Getting a new boss can be almost as nerve-wracking as starting an entirely new job. For me it was a double whammy - I started a new position four months ago and had my city manager take a position at another city just weeks later. Whether you have been in your position for years, or are relatively new to your role, having someone new to report to can be intimidating, but there are proactive steps you can take to smooth the transition and make sure your new manager sees you as someone he or she can count on.

Get back on your “A” game.

Remember when you were new in your position, and you read and re-read every email you drafted before hitting send? You made sure you were on time every day, even if it meant skipping your Starbucks run? You took a couple of minutes deciding what to wear in the morning making sure you looked professional instead of throwing on whatever was easiest/closest? It’s time to get back to being the most impressive version of you. When your old manager left, they took all those accumulated brownie points you earned for staying late or solving that really hard to handle issue with them. The score is reset and it’s on you to make sure your new boss’ first impressions are positive. Come in early; leave late and show your new manager that you remember how to be professional.

Take Responsibility for Establishing a Great Working Relationship

It’s been said that managing up is as important as managing down. And that's especially true when you are starting a relationship with a new boss.  Take the initiative to make him or her feel welcome, valued and valuable.  A lot of what makes a good work relationship is simply knowing the other person. Try to find out a little bit about who they are, what their interests are, and what their track record has been. Keep an eye out for your new boss’s personal quirks and preferences so that you’ve got a better idea of how to make both your lives easier and more productive. Schedule a time to sit down and talk about your new manager’s preferences and communication style.  Does he or she prefer email communication or face-to-face? If your manager sends an email after hours, does he or she expect you to respond immediately?

Give them space

The first few days of any new job are hectic, so don’t expect your manager to have a lot of time to dedicate to you.  Your first instinct may be to make sure your boss knows how great you are and bring that list of 25 new ideas and career plan to your first meeting, but the very best thing you can do is listen and observe. Realize that your boss is under more pressure than you are to learn the ropes and make a good impression. Keeping the focus on helping your new manager get on their feet and gain some early wins will show that you are a true team player.

And no matter what, make sure to stay optimistic. A new manager means new challenges and opportunities for your career. Learning how to navigate new relationships is an important skill, and you have been given the chance to perfect it!

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