When a Great Boss Says Goodbye – 5 Ideas to Salvage Support

bigstock-Smiling-businesswoman-on-white-25334750Perhaps you got your New Manager position with the help of your boss. Perhaps you inherited a supportive boss when you got your job. Maybe your excellent boss arrived after you did. However you came to work with your “best” boss, losing that person rocks your world.

When the stars line up perfectly, you have a great boss and your growth and success seem assured.  You have a person who guides and directs you, supports you, listens to you, laughs with you, shares disappointments with you, and brainstorms solutions with you. You have a leader who sets your goals and career path, opens doors, shares insights, paints the future picture and provides hope.  As the country song goes, “You’re gonna miss this.”

What can you do when you learn you will lose your best boss? Here are some actions you can take to keep an element of control and keep your career on track.

Download. Proactively set up time to gather important information and advice from your boss. What is the big-picture plan? What are the important projects, steps, and details? Ask for career advice relative to your company. The short term left for your boss may create a safer space to share more openly and honestly.

Mine. I have always believed that there is opportunity in chaos and churn. With some digging you may uncover new ideas, vistas or needs. There may be a promotion for you in this wave of change.  Are there projects you can take over? Could a conversation be had about reorganizing your department? Discuss possibilities proactively with your boss’s boss.

Interview. Ask to be part of the interview process to find your next boss. Prepare a list of benefits to your being on the interview panel. For instance, you know the makeup of the team and the projects in process. You have a unique ability to gauge cultural fit.  You deserve to be part of the process. Believe it—and ask for it.

Stay positive. As a manager, it is your job to soften the blow of the news for your team. If you admired your boss, it is likely others did too. Steer the ship through this choppy sea. Model confidence in the future, keep people focused, and provide hope.

Emulate. If your boss is someone you will remember ask yourself what made her so special. What did she do or say that brought out the best in you? How did he navigate the system for the good of the team? How did she break through obstacles while maintaining positive relationships? What made him wise? Remember and emulate the impressive characteristics, habits, relationships and style your good boss had.  Notice, learn, emulate, repeat.

Losing a terrific leader can shake up anyone. If you accept and manage the new normal, you’ll survive, New Manager, and so will your team.

About the author:

Cathy Huett is Director, Professional Services at The Ken Blanchard Companies.  This is the fourth in a series of posts specifically geared toward new and emerging leaders.

11 thoughts on “When a Great Boss Says Goodbye – 5 Ideas to Salvage Support

  1. It is likely that when you get a new boss, you get a new job:). Can you be flex? Get ready.

  2. Be Thankful. Having a great boss is a phenomenal opportunity to reflect back on what you’ve learned. By being thankful, the level of anxiety you might have will be reduced, because you realize the tools you have learned are valuable and that the group being left behind is in good shape.

    Being thankful is a great leadership tool that is rarely discussed

  3. Cath
    You’re right, losing a great boss can be a blow. I’ve “outlived” a few who have been good in their own ways. When I was younger I always feared change. Your article shows that there can be opportunity in every change that comes at work.

    We have a change coming in my own team where a much loved and respected manager will be retiring next year. I saw a few bottom lips quiver when I told the team of his plans to go. I told them that they were good enough to carry on his good work after he leaves.

    After all a really great boss leaves a strong team who can cope without him when he’s gone.

  4. Thank you all for such great comments. So true, Helen, that the best of bosses builds a strong and empowered team. Truly that is the real legacy isn’t it? This will likely be more prevalent as the boomer generation retires.

    Rod your reminder to be thankful to have worked with a great boss is important too. Thankful for the learning and for the fine example that will continue to serve those who worked with a great boss.


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  7. Loosing a manager can be a big problem that, I agree is worth being managed. To your points that are absolutely right I add the suggestion to network with linkedin to see if you can dig a little bit better in your new boss previous careers. For the rest simply be thankful to your former boss if it is the case and try to build the best relationship with the new one.

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