Managing Director, Ambition Hong Kong
Should I begin my climb up the corporate ladder?
I recently found out my immediate manager will be leaving the company in three months’ time. I have also heard that it might be me who is asked to take on his role, but I am not sure what to think. It would be my first step into management and no doubt a boost for my career. But I have seen how stressed my manager gets and I am not sure I could cope with the same pressure. It would probably be even worse for me as I have much less experience than he does. Should I accept if the role is offered to me, or should I wait for a later opportunity when I am more ready?
Thank you very much for your interesting questions regarding this potential career opportunity. To answer your questions you will need to reach some conclusions about your own personality – especially with regard to how you deal with potential stressful situations – your own career goals and the company’s plans for the position.
This process can run concurrently, but essentially, you need to engage with your immediate manager, the decision-maker on the role (who may be one and the same), as well as engage in undertake some serious self-reflection.
You need to confirm from your manager whether he is actually leaving, and if so, ascertain the scope and responsibilities of the position as it stands. Find out whether he thinks the opportunity fits your skills and temperament and whether he thinks you can be successful and why. Assuming he has already resigned, you should be able to get a reasonably objective view about your likely fit.
If you feel able to, also ask what he liked and did not like about the position and explore why he apparently experienced such stress. Use some tact when asking this question, though, as it may be a sensitive subject.
Ask how the company will be looking for a replacement and whether your manager has some influence on the appointment of a successor.
His opinion will help guide you as to whether you want to apply for the position or not, but it is not as important as your own perspective. You should analyse your personality make-up – your strengths and weaknesses, resilience, and your ability to cope with stress. You need to articulate your career goals and the steps needed to achieve those goals.
If you think this position will help you get there, then you should express an initial interest so that you are at least considered for the role.
If your immediate manager is not the decision-maker, then you should find out who is and make sure you understand the responsibilities of the role, what the company wants from you, what support they can give you, and what success or failure in the job looks like.
You will then be better equipped to undertake the selection process.
Paul Lyons is a careers and recruitment specialist and co-founder of recruitment company Ambition.
I hope this helps- good luck with your decision-making process and future career.