may sound like a great gig, but it’s not all fun and games. If you’ve been offered a promotion or are considering seeking one, you should take a serious look at the difficult aspects of being the boss before you make any moves, career expert Alison Green writes.
She offers six questions to guide your thought process:
1. Can you deliver difficult criticism and have tough conversations? Managers must be willing to be direct and say the things that are hard to say. This can include telling a worker he has body odor that he needs to address or telling an employee who’s working hard that her efforts aren’t enough and she’s at risk of losing her job if she doesn’t improve.
2. Can you make hard decisions about goals and priorities, and say “no” to things that don’t advance those goals? Managers must be able to set a vision for their team; communicate it and set goals and timelines around it; hold employees accountable for meeting those goals; and say “no” to activities that don’t help achieve those goals.
3. Do you feel comfortable exercising authority, including with people older and more experienced than you? New managers often find it surprisingly awkward to suddenly be in charge—especially if they are suddenly their former peers’ boss. They must be able to find the line between being too hesitant and too aggressive.
4. Do you know how to get things done without resorting to fear tactics? Exerting rigid control over employees, creating a climate of fear and anxiety, yelling and making unreasonable demands are the tools of weak managers. Managers must calmly and clearly lay out their expectations to the team, and then hold employees accountable in a fair, positive manner.
5. Can you represent the company even when you privately disagree with a decision from above you? Managers sometimes have to lead their teams in carrying out company objectives that they may not agree with. They can argue their perspective to other managers and try to influence decisions, but they can’t let on to their team that they disagree.
6. Are you comfortable working with people smarter than you, or does it make you defensive? Part of the boss’ job is to build a great team, which means hiring smarter people who may one day outshine her. It can be hard on the ego, but good managers make it work.
— Adapted from “Are You Cut Out to Be a Boss?” Alison Green, U.S. News & World Report’s On Careers blog.
Online resource: Check out Joan Burge’s advice on cultivating habits.
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