After two years in your job with your new company, you’ve finally got the lay of the land. You know what it takes to get ahead and you understand all the key requirements of your position. You’ve ramped up. You are fully onboarded. You’re cookin’!

Then the world changes. Your boss leaves the organization and senior management goes outside to recruit her replacement. The announcement is out…the boss starts in two weeks and he hasn’t even worked in your industry before!

Guess what…you’re almost back at square one. As the new boss gears up…YOU are also onboardng all over again.

In recent years, there’s been plenty written about the onboarding process as this term has become more of a part of our business vernacular. Yet, I find that many organizations are still thinking of the onboarding experience as one that applies only in a very narrow circumstance– when a new employee joins an organization.

Yes, joining a new organization is perhaps one of the most dramatic transition times for an employee at any level, particularly for new leaders. But, when you gain a new boss, many of the principles that apply to traditional onboarding, apply to this transition experience as well.

One of the critical first steps of successful onboarding is CLARIFYING EXPECTATIONS. This post deals with the various ways that you will need to re-clarify expectations, now that there is a new boss at the helm.

1. Clarifying/Redefining Your Role

Think your current role and job description still hold just because your title hasn’t changed? Think again. Over time, as your new boss finds his way forward, you should expect to renegotiate the scope and focus of your role. In fact, being proactive by signaling in your early one-on-one that you appreciate that there may be shifts in your current role that your new boss would like to see will demonstrate your maturtity and insight. So, have that initial meeting to review your current role, but in your discussions demonstrate your flexibility and openness to the new boss’ ideas. Also offer suggestions as to areas that might need to be tweaked once you hear the new boss’ mandate and points of passion about his new department.

2. Redefining Success

Sure, the new boss will have to pay attention to the rules of the game in the new organization, but he will also arrive with his own set of rules around what types of behaviour he respects and rewards.

What does success mean to him?
What are his hot bottons?
What has he promoted people for in the past?
Specifically, in your role, what does he most want to see from you over the next 90 days?

3. Identifying Best Communication Practices

Your old boss loved email and weekly half-page updates on your project goals. To continue providing this means of communication to your new boss without checking in with him could be the kiss of death for a boss that rarely reads his email, prefers informal face-to-face discussion and expects frequent phone calls when you are on the road. You could still be communicating the same content that was on the mark for the old boss, but suddenly the new boss feels “left out of the loop” and has little sense of connection with you relative to your peers who also prefer in-person updates. It is important to have deliberate conversations about what style of communication you both prefer and to negotiate an approach that meets both your needs. Never assume.

Bottom line? Don’t under-estimate the importance of this transition timeframe both for you and your new boss. Thinking about it as akin to gaining a new job or joining a new company will help you to give the change the attention it deserves. It is critical to spend time upfront Clarifying Expectations– both your expectations of your new boss and the new boss’ expectations of you.