In any new job, you face a multitude of challenges… all of which have to be addressed “on the run” and simultaneously. One of the biggest of these is “managing up” – that is, working with your new boss.

For too many people, including senior level executives, this becomes a random process. They don’t want to engage their bosses in a specific, granular discussion that might make them uncomfortable. Here’s my bias: The priority of achieving clarity should trump any and all other concerns. To that end, the following are five conversations that you should have with your new boss – regardless of your level/job title – early in your tenure:

  • The Situational Conversation. Seek to understand (and reach agreement on) your new boss’s context for the business. Is this a turnaround, start-up, realignment or sustaining success? What are the strategic priorities?
  • The Expectation Conversation. Seek to understand and negotiate expectations. What needs to be done and how quickly? What does the objective–setting process look like? What will you need to achieve, and how soon?
  • Style Conversation. What will the “interaction model” look like? What kind of decisions does he/she want to be involved in, how often, and on what types of issues and to what degree?
  • Resource Conversation. What will you need to be successful – especially money and talent? What kind of support will you need from your new boss (selling and socializing ideas and initiatives, “clearing the runway,” etc.)?
  • Personal Development Conversation. How will your tenure in the new job contribute to your personal development and career aspirations?

Obviously, these questions will spark others. Your new boss may not have even had a discussion of this type with anyone in the past. That shouldn’t ever diminish the priority of your having it, however.

Copyright 2010 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit