Of new bosses and the things that change will bring

This week brought a very unpleasant blow.

I won’t be reporting to my current boss any more.

There was a reorganization as happens frequently in Corporate America. Thursday morning, my boss told me that my group would be consolidated with the related phone unit under a new manager. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know just how much I love my boss. I literally had to walk away from my desk to go cry. After I cleaned myself up, my knee jerk reaction was “I’m quitting! I’m looking for a new job right. this. second!”. Not a very mature way to handle something like that, eh? After the shock wore off a bit, I was able to think a little more reasonably.

My new boss (J) is the guy I’ve mentioned being jealous of because he was promoted to a higher position before I was. Recently, I overheard him talking about the stress that said job is causing. I felt sorry for him and offered a suggestion he might want to try (Walk away from your desk to eat lunch. Sit in your car if you have to). I doubt he took my advice, but I shared it nonetheless. As I thought more about it, he seems pretty chill. If he gets flustered, he’s good at keeping it inside. I’m…not. There’s about 8 weeks left in the year. I decided to give it until then to see if we work out. If we don’t, then I’ll move on. If we do, yay! In the meeting where this was officially announced, he looked a bit like a deer in headlights. This is a change for him because he’s jumping into an area he knows almost nothing about. I’ve already been working on the whole “think before you speak” bit & I’ve resolved to do my best to help him out as he’s learning.

My staff was also cut as a result of the change. I went from four to two direct reports. The two I lost don’t relate to this new group at all. Of course, I took it personally. I was lamenting to my dad how, once again, I felt like a crappy manager. He offered up a cliche, but very solid advice.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

When I first started, I looked to the head of the department and did my best to emulate her level of sartorial choices. My (now former) boss’ boss never wears khakis and a polo shirt even though I see one of the CEOs sporting that outfit all the time. My wardrobe choices have relaxed into the level that most other people are wearing. I wore my version of a suit when I thought I would have to go in front of the other CEO (take two, they’re small). I felt good knowing that I looked professional. My boss complimented me on dressing for the occasion even though I didn’t end up going. I’d been putting off updating my work wardrobe anyway, so I took this as the kick in the ass I needed. I assessed my current wardrobe, made a list of what would fill it out, and went on my merry way. Now I have enough pieces to wear plenty of combinations of professional outfits during the week. My “casual Friday” look will elevate from jeans to J.Crew pants.

The second positive change is I finally asked if I could take another licensing exam. I’ve been going back and forth about asking. It’s a very specific exam only applicable to one department. I have to be willing to put a target on my back once I have this exam under my belt should they need another person in that area. Prior to my promotion, my boss had been strongly suggesting I try to get into that department. It would afford me a ton of opportunities to learn more about the business. I’m an expert in my little bubble, emphasis on the little, but don’t know much about how the rest of the company functions. I finally went to the head of the department, asked to take the exam, and she approved it. They foot the bill for study materials and the fee for the exam. If I fail, I’m on the hook for the fee after that. I know my competitive nature will kick in and I’ll want to keep my streak of passing each exam on the first try. In glancing at the outline, it’s fairly basic. They’ll just try to trick me on those “All of the following are true except…” questions. Sneaky, sneaky securities industry.

Even if I don’t report to my former boss any more, I’ll still have him as a mentor, a work neighbor, and even a friend. As much as I’m averse to change, perhaps this one will work out after all.