Your Future Boss Thinks You Suck

Kris Dunn Change, Change Management, Coaching, HR, Kris Dunn

“Where are we at <insert random request for information>?”

This question is not an invitation to list what’s been done. It’s a test. Put on a helmet kids, because I’m about to give you some tough love.


At some point in the future, all of you reading this post are going to get a new boss. Most of you will have 5-10 new bosses across the rest of your career, which is reflective of how chaotic work is for our generation and the general pace of change. Some of those new bosses are going to have manageable expectations.

But it’s important to note that many of them of are going to expect new things out of you, and they generally won’t be that concerned with your feelings.

Many of the new bosses are going to expect you to be great in the way you do HR or Recruiting.

The problem with that? Their definition of great is going to be different than yours, and their definition is the only one that counts. Here’s how your interactions with a new boss who expects you to be great are going to go:

1. The new boss comes in and things appear fine. This is called the “honeymoon” period. All parties are getting to know each other, and your new boss is forming opinions of what he’s got related to talent on the team. There are lunches, light meetings and hell, even some jokes!

2. You’re presented with a challenge, and you do what you do, and what you have always done. Most of you won’t do more than you’ve always done in the area requested. Doing more will be out of your comfort zone, and what you have done has always been enough.

3. The new boss expresses on some level that you’ll need to think differently to meet his expectations. How your new boss frames this request depends on the challenge, but it generally follows a “What else you got?”, “I need more”, or “go figure it out” type of conversational vibe.

4. The new boss doesn’t tell you what more looks like, but will tell you if he’s impressed by what you’re doing. That’s why he’s the boss. If he has to tell you what to do, he’s not sure why he needs you on the team. He won’t tell you what to do, but he will compliment you if you’re on the right track and if you keep him updated and tell him what you’re doing.

5. Silence is dangerous. Long stretches of silence are generally accompanied by you being fired or someone else being hired above you. The most dangerous thing you can do with a new boss is not engage. If you accept silence and refuse to get in front of the relationship, that’s you doing what you’ve always done. Organizational change usually follows long periods of silence.

You’re on the clock with any new boss – both as an HR leader, a Recruiter and a line HR pro. Whether you report to a CEO as an HR leader or a new VP of HR as a line HR pro or recruiter, you’re being tested.

You have to play offense, which means you gotta rock the request. No whining.

Doing what you’ve always done is dangerous.