Congratulations, you’ve landed that amazing new job! In the interviews, you shone a spotlight on your strengths and you candidly addressed your development needs. They loved what they heard!

Now that you’re hired, you can relax and let things unfold. Can’t you???

In my work with people who are moving into a new role, particularly those joining a new employer, we often spend time prior to “day 1” focusing on how they want to be seen.

You see, “branding” will happen with or without your deliberate efforts. From the first time you shake hands or introduce yourself, others will make assumptions about you and begin to shape their interactions with you accordingly. They’ll decide whether to share information with you because you seem collaborative and trustworthy. Or, they’ll decide to block your efforts to gain organizational knowledge because they see you as arrogant and competitive in a negative way. It’s just human nature to try to simplify our surroundings.

So, when I link “personal branding” with onboarding (the timeframe of ramping up in a new job), what I’m referring to is having a clear picture in your own mind of the impression you want others to gain about you.

What 3 words or phrases do you want to immediately come to mind when people meet you?
Which of your strengths do you want to clearly project?
What do you want others to know and believe about you?

I recommend focusing on 3 words for a reason… being a walking laundry list of 20 personal competencies will not only be impossible for others to retain…it’s a quick way to get your colleagues’ backs-up. Think in sound bites. What 3 qualities are most important for you to be well-received? And I mean geunine qualities that are authentically yours…not some manufactured image that belies the real you.

Use these 3 qualities as your personal affirmation in morning when you jump out of bed, when you look in the mirror and when you are focusing on bolstering your confidence for that next important meeting. Such as, “I am an attentive listener. I am an insightful analyst. I get things done.”

I also approach this exercise by encouraging my clients not to think in terms of what message they want to send about themselves, but what message do they want others to receive. It’s a subtle shift that makes a world of difference. Focus on how you hope to have others perceive you. What do they need to hear (or not hear) from you? If you know yourself to be an “attentive listener”…what do others need to see you doing when they first meet you to conclude that you are in fact a great listener. Telling them you have this quality sure won’t cut it!

Moving into a new role is a challenging and overwhelming time. Keep your self-talk focused and manage your personal brand. It will pave the way to successful relationships and a great future!

In my last blog post I shared the first step of dealing with the disappointment of starting a new position full of enthusiasm only to find as the weeks have gone on that the boss you were so excited to work for has turned out to offer less promise than you’d hoped.

This step was to face up and recognize that your boss is human too.

In this post…we’ll look at Step 2- Discuss Mutual Expectations with the New Boss

More often than not, I find that the challenges that surface in early weeks of a boss-direct report relationship arise because expectations have not been aligned.

This doesn’t necessarily mean there is a MIS-alignment…but simply that the alignment conversations haven’t taken place. There are too many assumptions being made.

Conversations about expectations need to focus on the WHAT and the HOW.

A) First the “what”…

If your boss isn’t sending you warm and fuzzy vibes…perhaps it’s because you’ve launched in by focusing on the wrong priorities. Your job description is not necessarily the right place to start. Be sure to have a conversation that identifies the most important initiatives over the next few weeks to demonstrate that you are ramping-up in a productive and appropriate manner. In other words…what does your boss REALLY want you to do in your first few weeks?

Here’s a client scenario. After three short weeks on the job, Jill was getting the sense that her boss was somehow let-down by Jill’s contribution. When she got the nerve up to check-in with him, she learned that the subject her boss most wished she would address was a long-standing organizational issue that was well within the scope of Jill’s role at her previous organization. Resolving this issue didn’t involve a learning curve for her at all. This expertise was, in fact, one of the key reasons Jill had been hired…despite the job description focusing on areas that were outside of Jill’s comfort zone. Jill had mistakenly understood that the “right thing” to do was to show commitment right off the bat to learning about all of the areas that were new to her. This misunderstanding could have easily derailed the relationship and Jill’s perceived performance in her role.

Now, how about YOU’re “what”? Based on the discussions through the recruitment process, what had you expected to be able to focus on in the initial few weeks of joining the organization? How are these expectations being met? I’ve witnessed new Onboarding coaching clients who are stewing over the disappointment of not being able to sink their teeth into the assignments that they’d been promised. It’s my belief that sitting on this disappointment is a sure start down the road of disengagement. Better to have a conversation about what’s different from what was expected. Then, in a non-blaming way, work to clarify how and when you may be able to experience the initiatives you thought you would be part of your mandate.

B) Now let’s look at the “how”…

Even clients who are perfectly aligned with their bosses on the “what” expectations for their first 90 days, often have missteps on the “how”. Mutual expectations around communication style, mode of communication and frequency are all too often left to chance. It’s only when things go horribly wrong that the discussions take place and by then it’s often too late.

In my self-coaching workbook, “Wow Them In Your New Job!”, I include an exercise that encourages new hires to set time aside with the new boss to talk about:
• Whether they prefer email, phone or face-to-face
• Frequency of updates preferred
• Turnaround times expected
• Nature of feedback preferred, etc.

Remember that this is a conversation about “mutual expectations”…it’s a chance to express your needs as well…it’s not just about pleasing the boss. Optimal communication meets the needs of both parties.

Having these “what” and “how” conversations to clarify expectations as early in the game as possible can go a long way to rectifying an uncomfortable relationship with a new boss. I’ve witnessed many boss-direct report relationships turning around profoundly with even one open and direct conversation about expectations.

So, if you are disappointed with how things are going with your new boss… what do you have to lose? Arrange for an “expectations” conversation as soon as possible.

My next blog post will address Step 3. After attempting steps 1 & 2, it’s time to decide if the gap is workable—or not.

In my last blog post I focused on the disappointment of starting your new position full of enthusiasm only to find as the weeks have gone on that the boss you were so excited to work for has turned out to offer less promise than you’d hoped.

I observed that my clients who are most successful in moving through this disappointment are those that take the following steps:

1. Face Up. Your Boss is Human Too
2. Have a Discussion About Mutual Expectations
3. Decide if the Gap Is Workable. Move On… or Not.

In this post…we’ll look at Step 1.

Face Up. Your Boss is Human Too

Once you’ve recognized that you are indeed working for a human being who is bound to have foibles, bad days and development needs of his or her own, you need to figure out what cost to you is your boss’ humanity.

News alert! Perhaps at some point in the future, we will all report directly to an avatar, but in the meantime…reality is that you will ALWAYS work for a human boss (unless of course you start your own business and then the clients become your human bosses).

So, you need to decide rationally… Is the situation with your boss so extreme as to be intolerable? For example, ethical issues, harassment, undermining behavior (If so, move directly to Step 3). Or, is it simply less than an ideal relationship and thus ripe for ample opportunity for learning for you?

As I often coach my clients… try to flip the situation upside down.

How is THIS boss as THIS time with THESE flaws actually perfect for your own development and progress as leader? The Center for Creative Leadership has long identified having a difficult boss as being one of the developmental experiences that contributes most powerfully to growth of successful executives. What can you gain from this relationship?

How can you get over yourself? So, the dream of the ideal boss hasn’t been fully realized…now what? You’ve made the move, you’re in the role. How do you make the best out of the situation?

How can you lighten up about your boss’ flaws? In relationship coaching we are taught that focusing on the positivity in the relationship is the best way to nurture a relationship. It’s all too easy to train our eyes to see what’s missing or what is different that what we’d prefer. What if you were to be deliberate about taking the time to notice your boss’s strengths and how you could benefit from being around these strengths?

I recently coached a client (I’ll call her Kelly) who acknowledged that she had been so blinded by how impossibly hard-driving a previous boss had been that she literally couldn’t see any of the “good” in him. She failed to learn from him how to “pre-sell” ideas through one-on-one conversations prior to major presentations for executive team approval. Kelly’s boss was an absolute master at this art of influence and it is now a skill that my client is working hard at developing. How much further ahead might she be now, had she not turned ignored the leadership lessons her previous boss COULD have offered?

So, provided you aren’t working for someone who compromises your personal ethics or deliberately undermines your sense of self, I challenge you to shake off the victim mentality and see what learning there is for you in this relationship.

My next posts will address Steps 2 and 3.

They’ve wooed you for your expertise. They can’t wait for you to start your new position to bring your experiences to the new company. The ad said they were looking for a strong change agent who would come in and challenge the status quo…and they picked you!

Now your first day in your new job is finally here and you are chomping at the bit to bring all of your talents to bear and impress the heck out of everyone! You’ll show as quickly as you can that they made the right choice in hiring you.


What they neglected to tell you was that the rules of the game change once you shift from being a recruitment candidate to a new hire. Yes, they want all of your fresh ideas…but all in good time. There’s some important credibility-building, listening & observing and relationship-building to do first.

In our recent Onboarding Group Coaching call, hiring managers and Human Resources leaders alike shared personal experiences of dealing with this dilemna.

Here’s a 2.5 minute clip of a participant sharing an example of how the focus changes from attracting a change agent to coaching the same person after they’re hired on how to be well-received in their new workplace.

Click Here to listen now

To hear more about how you or the people you hire can Ramp Up Right!, join us for our next free Onboarding Coaching Call on Tuesday, June 24th at 10am EST (New York, Toronto)

Click Here to sign up now