Have you ever been asked to stand in for another manager who is away? Ever wished you had not said yes so eagerly?
Let's look at what you need to know before you give the nod. You will need to find out about the scope of the role, the additional support and resources you will have, any issues that exist within the team or department, your goals and any additional pay or development opportunities the experience will offer.
Being a stand-in is not quite the same as being the real thing. You will have to be selective in how you work, especially if you are also continuing with your existing role. You may have the authority of the new role, but you will have to decide the limits to your authority in this context. For example, performance issues may fall under your remit, but a radical change of work outcomes will probably not, unless you have explicitly been told this was in mind before your arrival.
Allow yourself to be guided by team members in your decision-making. Be authoritative where you can; this communicates confidence to others and helps them to feel comfortable working with you.
What should a returning manager find? Their house is in order; systems are recognisable, even if you have improved them; staff are motivated and working well; and your stand- in work goals have been met and a written and verbal handover carried out.
How should you feel at the end of the stand-in period? Stretched but not stressed, and happy to return to base.
Elaine Willis is a consultant - firstname.lastname@example.org.