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I have, up until recently, been the only member of my team after the team leader left a few months ago. The new one has just started, so naturally, part of my role is to help him settle in. I'm still fairly new to the company and indeed to the workplace (recent graduate), and strongly feel that I need leadership while I'm finding my feet in the industry (however, since he's new, I'm obviously not expecting anything straight away). He has industry experience.

I want to welcome him to the company and point out the things that he can start changing, or processes that he can start implementing, but I don't want to be seen as telling him how to do his job. I'm also unsure of how to judge what he already knows, so that I don't come across as patronising (things that seem complex to me may be self-evident to him) or as missing things out.

How can I explain things to a new superior without seeming bossy or patronising?

  • Settle in and point out things out things he can start changing are not the same. You want to me show you around is settle in. Let the manager ask you for input on changes. – paparazzo Feb 25 '15 at 18:43
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You can ask him if he's interested in you describing/showing how you/your group have been doing things before he got there, and perhaps offering your opinion regarding areas that can be improved - not necessarily what those improvements are, but asking him how he might improve them for the benefit of the group.

Honestly, the short period I had in a group where our manager was dismissed and before they hired the new one was when our small team banded together, and decided on some process improvements on our own which were presented as a fait accompli by the time the new manager was installed. Saved a lot of discussion and arguments.

I have on several occasions helped a new manager learn the ropes. Introducing them to key people who he should work with, giving a head's up about specific "politics" between groups/managers, providing historical context about why things are done a certain way, and who might be stakeholders in changing processes. There is information you can provide your boss that his boss may not have.

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Start the dialog with the new boss, and let them come to you. If you can identify their management style, you can somewhat anticipate the best approach.

If a boss is not as technical as their subordinates, it will make more sense to acknowledge this and let them ask questions to see how deep they want to go.

My advice boils down to: be outgoing and helpful. Let them know you can help them with whatever questions they need. A good manager should be able to figure out what questions they need to ask to manage a team.

As other have said, let them settle in. If you never get asked questions regarding processes, etc. then it may make sense to be more forthright with your opinions and suggestions. I would say a lack of questions is a red flag for a new manager.

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How can I explain things to a new superior without seeming bossy or patronizing?

Introduce yourself and let them know you are happy to do whatever you can to help out. Provide them with a written description of your roles, responsibilities, and goals. Also provide them with a list of your ideas on how things can improved. Finally, take time to listen to them, find out what their goals are, and have fun collaborating with them, and volunteer to do whatever you can to help out - as long as it doesn't conflict with your current responsibilities or goals; if there is a conflict, work with them to adjust your responsibilities so you can focus on what they believe is important.

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I am in this situation.

What I have found is that others have come to me with observations (problems) that they need help solving. Usually what happens is that they describe something from their point of view and ask me to work with them to solve those issues.

At the same time it really depends on the type of manager you're working with. Some like to be approached in this aspect (me), while others seem to act otherwise. I am not sure how you can find out what kind of manager he might be, but it might be better to find out now.

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