Q: I am an engineer for a mid-sized medical device company. Our manager was just mysteriously let go. I was told now I am the “acting manager.” I am not even sure what this means. Any suggestions?
A: Companies often try to elevate the most seasoned or talented employee when a new management role becomes available unexpectedly. You may never fully know all the details of your former manager’s separation. However, you have been placed in what could be a promising opportunity.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson, author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, shares her expertise:
That means you are in charge until a replacement can be found. If you want the job, then I strongly suggest you do what I did over twenty-five years ago. Go in and tell your boss that you want the job. Ask him or her specifically what you need to do to secure this opportunity. Remind your manager of your qualifications as he or she may not realize that you have an advanced degree, special skills or other attributes that may be useful in this new position. If your boss provides a vague reply, ask for specifics in an appropriate and professional way.
If you are new to management, then I strongly suggest that you prepare for success. You do this by educating yourself on how to become the type of leader that has people following them when they turn around. I would also suggest finding a mentor who can provide you with guidance as you navigate this new territory. Lastly, ask when a final decision will be made regarding this position so that you aren't "acting manager" forever.
Finally, I would also recommend asking how your responsibilities will change in this new role. What are the expectations? You want to ensure that you fully understand any new tasks or challenges. This is an opportunity for you… if you want it. You have to demonstrate that you want it.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.