Your supervisor is absent for a few days, on sick leave or quits without warning and you’re asked to fill in until a replacement can be found. Do you accept the challenge?
If you’re up to it…
Refusing can be poorly perceived by your superiors and stall your career. On the other hand, accepting the position may ruffle some feathers around the office. Ultimately though, this is an opportunity to tackle new strategic and operational challenges, and a chance to gain visibility and highlight your talents.
Whether you accept or not, in any case, this decision is not one to be taken lightly. It’s no small task becoming a manager, and an even greater one to manage one’s colleagues.
In taking on this challenge, your colleagues suddenly become your subordinates. Considering that you may return to your former position one day, important decisions that could change team dynamics must be made very carefully and, ideally, alongside your superiors.
Congratulations, you’ve accepted the challenge!
Here are six points to consider that can help you in your new role, increase your chances of success and help turn the temporary assignment into a permanent position:
1. The first important aspect is determining how long you’ve been given these new responsibilities, because this will have a major impact on the way you manage your team. Sometimes, especially in the case of a sick leave, this period can’t be defined accurately. Therefore, it’s important to be especially tactful in your interactions and increase your scope of action gradually as the interim period extends. If the assignment is short-term, you should focus your energies on daily operations. If the assignment extends further, you’ll need to develop a more comprehensive strategic plan (motivating personnel, dealing with issues, orienting the team, etc.).
2. It’s essential to determine, alongside your supervisor, the board of directors or any other relevant authority, the tasks, responsibilities and influence you’ll have during this period. Aspects such as purchasing new computer systems, modifying strategic orientations and being granted the authority to dismiss staff must be clearly defined before you accept any position; otherwise it is likely that conflicts will arise with both employees and management. This aspect is closely related to the length of the period discussed in the previous point.
3. Regularly communicating the status of projects to your superiors is a win-win strategy, since it allows you to get management’s support andalmost as importanthighlights your achievements. Management will remember what you did during the interim period and may be inclined to give you additional tasks if you are not granted the position permanently.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your superiors are aware that you will likely go through an adaptation period and probably need help in completing certain projects. Don’t hesitate to call on both external and internal resources for support. It’s in the best interest of the organization that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
5. Up your communications with your team. In the case of an interim replacement, it’s wise to be transparent when making important decisions. Remember that people are watching and judging you in your new role and that the assignment may not be permanent. You’re managing a team without having complete authority over your employees.
6. Practice what you preach and maintain a positive attitude. To avoid damaging your image and reputation, remember that you are still part of the original team. For example, favouring certain employees over others or taking certain liberties that you wouldn’t have as an employee may cause certain people to hold a grudge, which could tarnish your return to the team as a colleague. Therefore, it’s important to be fair at all times.
In conclusion, remember that accepting a promotion can be a very rewarding and character-building experience. It’s also an opportunity to take on a challenge and learn more about yourself. However, it’s important to be prepared.
Such an opportunity is a ticket to showcasing your abilities and climbing the corporate ladder, and who knows? It may even lead to a long career in management.