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The ‘stealth promotion’ promotes only confusion

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “The owner of our business wants to put me in a management position without telling the staff that they report to me. He’s afraid that if he officially makes me the boss, some “old timers” will be upset. He says that if I lead meetings, approve vacation requests and participate in performance reviews, employees will automatically begin to regard me as their manager.

“Before joining this company, I was a plant manager for twelve years, so I know how management works. If the owner goes through with this plan, I will be held accountable for results, but will have virtually no control over the staff’s performance. Isn't he being somewhat unrealistic?” Baffled

A: Your timid boss apparently believes that by giving you a stealth promotion, he can avoid having some difficult conversations. Perhaps you should point out that poorly defined roles could lead to much greater problems.

When reporting relationships are ambiguous, employees have to deal with unclear expectations and confused priorities. To resolve these issues, they typically seek out the answer they prefer, just like kids deciding whether to ask mom or dad. The eventual result can be chaos and conflict.

If the owner hopes to benefit from your leadership ability, then he needs to tell the staff why he is putting you in charge. If he fails to do so because he fears hurting their feelings, then he’s not much of a leader himself.

Do you have questions about your own leadership style? Here are some signs that you might have a problem: How to Be a Lousy Leader.

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