Whether you have your old job and a new boss, or a new job and a new boss, there may be some potential for conflicts in the situation. One way to head these off at the pass is to sit down with your new boss as soon as possible to clarify your role and job duties. Approach this meeting with careful planning and preparation.
Old-Timer or Newbie
If you're a long-term employee, you have one big advantage over your new boss. In most cases you know the organization and the players, and have a handle on at least some of the organizational history. Your knowledge could be extensive, and that information can be very helpful to your boss if it's presented in a neutral and tactful way. A discussion about your job role is an opportunity to subtly highlight your knowledge while gaining information about the direction your boss plans for the department and your position. If you're a new employee, however, a September 2010 article in "U.S. News and World Report" recommends you ask your boss some specific questions about her priorities for you in the role.
Don't just jump into a conversation in the hall or try to grab your boss when she's got a full schedule. Ask for an appointment, and be clear about what you plan to discuss: "I'd like to review my current job duties with you to see how they fit in light of any changes you might want to make or plans you have." Get a copy of your job description and take one to the meeting for your boss. A few days before the meeting, review the job description and add additional tasks or responsibilities you might have that aren't on the formal document. Although you might want a raise or a title change, this is probably not the best time to discuss those issues. Give your boss a chance to get his feet wet first.
Focus on the Organization
Begin by thanking your boss for meeting with you. Be respectful of her time and stay focused on the topic at hand. You might make a comment such as "I expect some changes, as people have different work styles, and understand you might want me to do things in a different way. Are there any of these tasks you feel I should stop doing or do differently?" If your boss wants you to eliminate something you consider particularly important to the organization, explain the rationale behind that job duty. Keep your focus on the organization's needs, not your personal likes and dislikes. If you're feeling overwhelmed, ask for her help in prioritizing your work.
Stay professional -- don't get into personalities or gossip. Neither of you know each other yet, and there's an assessment occurring on both sides, advises an article on by Robert Half International. Your focus in this meeting is to find out what you can do to support your boss and benefit the organization. This meeting could also be an opportunity to take on new responsibilities, so be prepared to volunteer if your boss mentions a new project that would suit your skills and experience. End the meeting early or at least on time, and remember to say thank you. Follow up on any issues you discussed to demonstrate that you are reliable.