Do You Need to Replace a Bad Boss?
Though becoming the new leader of a team is exciting, it can be all too common to learn that the previous team leader was a “bad” boss. This could be for a variety of reasons. They could have been incompetent, highly political at work, a poor culture fit, overly demanding, or lack self-awareness. Regardless, you need to step in as the new boss, gain the support of the team, and work together in a healthy, positive way going forward.
Research-Backed Tips on How to Replace a Bad Boss
Here is a perfect opportunity to take a bad situation and turn it around. Consider it a challenge that requires a strategic approach. Based upon data from new manager training and our people manager assessment center, here are tips on how to replace a bad boss:
- Don’t Blame the Past, Focus on What is in Your Control
You’re the newcomer and do not know what it was like to lead the team or to work under the previous leader. It’s better to be generous in spirit. Rather than commiserate with the team members and point the finger of blame at your predecessor, recognize their positive contributions. Bad boss or not, they must have done something right.New leaders who blame others tend to have a fragile sense of self-worth. New leaders who blame others are seen as shirking their responsibilities, eroding trust, and weakening accountability at work. Any leader that blames others, is perceived as embracing a victim mentality – the opposite of the type of high performance culture that high performing leaders create and expect.
- Don’t Assume, Ask and Listen Before You Act
It’s not effective to act until you fully understand the current situation and know what your stakeholders and your team wants and needs. Consider one-on-one sessions that you run much like an exit interview. What’s working well? What needs improvement? What are the top pressures?Listen closely to how team members want to move forward and what matters most to them in setting up team norms, goals and accountabilities. Then plan how you can incorporate what you have learned into your vision for success.
- Don’t Look Backward, Look to the Future
While leaders must sometimes look back (e.g., project postmortems) to move ahead, high performing new leaders are adept at strategic forward-thinking. They create clear and compelling future opportunities for themselves and others. They orient the team toward the future.Once your team feels like you understand the relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, co-create where the team needs to go and how to get there.
The Bottom Line
Stepping into a role which had been badly managed can be a wonderful opportunity to set things right. Be the leader this struggling team deserves by setting the course for a healthy culture that has a clear and meaningful path forward.
To learn more about how to replace a bad boss, download Are You one of the 2 in 5 Managers Who Are Bad Bosses?