7 tips on making your tenure a successful one
So the boss is going on holiday and has designated you as deputy in their absence. Pleased? Excited? Nervous? Terrified? People can feel a whole range of emotions on being asked to deputise, depending on their personality, confidence levels, office dynamics, the role involved, market conditions, expectations…
Whatever the emotion, it’s important that you step up to the mark and do a good job in your boss’ absence. Even if you’re nervous and know it is unlikely to be a smooth ride, you need to view the situation as an exciting challenge, an opportunity to learn new skills and hopefully, a chance to shine.
To ensure your tenure is as successful as it can be, we have come up with a few tips.
1. Understand what is expected of you. It is important that you know what role your boss expects you to fulfill. Are you expected to simply hold the fort and keep things ticking over? If your boss does not want you to make any important decisions or exercise any real authority in their absence, then it’s best to know that. However, if your boss expects you to deal proactively with situations as they arise and resolve any issues that crop up, then you need to know that too so that you can act accordingly.
2. Be prepared. Hopefully your boss will give you a comprehensive handover. If it is not forthcoming, you may need to take the initiative. This handover should cover many aspects of the role. You need to know if there are any outstanding matters that need dealing with, what will come up and what might come up. If a situation might arise that you are unsure of, talk to your boss about what could be the best way of dealing with it. Offer what you think are good solutions – it’s always good to present solutions rather than just problems. Know what it is a priority, what is urgent and what can wait.
3. Make sure your boss gets the word out. If everyone else – colleagues, senior managers, clients, etc. – are informed in advance that you will be in the top seat for this period, this should help you establish your authority. It sends out a strong message to people that you are in charge and that you have the confidence of your boss.
4. Have a list of contacts. Ensure your boss details who to go to in different situations, who is responsible for which tasks and who can support you in the event of any problems arising.
5. Know the protocol. Establish with your boss whether or not to maintain contact in the holiday period. Do they want regular updates? Do you contact them in an emergency? If not, is there someone else senior internally who can help steer you successfully through any emergencies?
6. Be tactful and diplomatic in your role. Remember, your boss has left you in charge for a designated period of time. On their return, you will most likely return to your usual role and have to work with people back on your old footing. If you let the temporary power go to your head, it could be hard to reintegrate smoothly back into your old role with your old colleagues.
7. Enjoy the opportunity, learn new skills and experiences. Deputising is a great way to get a taster of what will hopefully be the next stage in your career. Being in a position of greater responsibility is also a good opportunity for networking, for raising your profile and showcasing what you can do. Make the most of these opportunities – it may lead to promotion or new opportunities and enhances your CV.