A new boss may ultimately be a blessing -- a person who is more receptive to your ideas, more appreciative of your talents, more helpful to the accomplishment of your goals for both the organization and yourself.

But, meanwhile, educating a new boss can be a major pain if he or she came from another department or company. It's sort of like dealing with a 3-year-old dressed up as an executive.

"Why are you doing it this way?"

"Why do you need that?"

"Who says we have to do this?"

"How long will it take?"


"How should I answer this note from my boss?"


Occasionally, a question will bring you up short, make you reevaluate a need or procedure and lead to an improvement. But if you're good at your job, most of this barrage will just add a lot of teaching to the normal demands on your time.

Most of us recognize, of course, that this process is unavoidable, and we understand the new person's desire to be filled in and "up to speed" as fast as possible. Nevertheless, there are some newcomers who really strain our empathy quotient.

One type is the workaholic who continually schedules breakfast meetings and even dinner-time meetings (without dinner, usually) with no regard for the disruptions they cause.

The worst case may be a nicer person, yet take up even more of your time. That's the new boss who either is spread so thin or so overprogrammed with meetings that the two of you can hardly ever talk. So most of the why's and what-should-we-do's come to you in memos and scribbled notes and have to be answered in writing.

Unfortunately, the adequate but unpolished project rationale that's fine in conversation is not what you want to represent you "on record." And the candid explanation of office politics or personalities that you can give in person should never be put on paper. So your educational chores are compounded by a need for careful composition and diplomacy.

Just what you always wanted: more memos to write . . . and ones that take special care at that.

Try to remember in these dark hours (or weeks or months) that the relationship with a new boss can never be like that of Congress and a new president, with a honeymoon at the start. It's more like an awkward blind date.

With luck there'll be a long honeymoon later.