The boss is out on leave and you're left in charge. Resist the urge to curl up into the fetal position. You may feel like you're not ready for this responsibility, but you can do this. It's in experiencing these growing pains that you really learn a lot about yourself and what you're capable of.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to step into my boss's shoes for an extended period of time. It reminded me a lot of when I grew up and left home—a little nerve-racking yet exciting at the same time. Here are a few pointers I picked up during my time in charge.
Everybody wants to be the super hero, but no one can do everything on his or her own. It is important to utilize the strengths of one's peers to get the job done. And if you are as lucky as I am, you will have co-workers who are itching to bale you out. But in order to make it happen, you need let go and delegate.
2. Seek counsel
We all run into the confines of our own knowledge. And it can be humbling to realize your own limitations, but just remember neither your co-workers or boss expect you to know it all. When you run into these barriers, I recommend seeking the counsel of your peers to make an informed decision.
3. Keep clients informed
Clients are itching to hear from you. Keep them up-to-date on your next steps—whether by giving them a heads up for when to expect the next deliverable, or if you can't respond to their latest email right away, send them a message acknowledging you received their message and will get back to them shortly. An informed client is a happy client.
4. Pace yourself
Chances are, if you're stepping into the boss's shoes, you aren't just covering for one day, but for an extended period of a couple of weeks or months. So even though it is tempting to start work early, work through lunch and put in a few hours before and after dinner, it's in your and the company's best interest to take breaks. If you don't pace yourself, you risk burnout.
5. Turn off your email
At first, I was proud of how quickly I responded to clients' emails. But I soon learned for every one I sent out, I got one back just as quickly. And the majority of my days became consumed by email correspondence. I recommend setting some time aside each day where you turn off your email and focus only on work.
6. Don't be afraid to disappoint
It's impossible to keep everyone happy. Try as you might, whether a co-worker or client, chances are someone at some point will be displeased with you. When this happens, for small instances I recommend taking a deep breath and simply pressing forward. For larger occurrences, take a larger break—go for a walk—to help gain some perspective.
7. Own up to your mistakes
Failures are bound to happen, and good project managers are honest when they fall short. It can be humbling at first to admit your failures. But in the end everyone is better off for it.
8. Create a positive atmosphere
Not having the boss's steady guiding hand around can be stressful. But I discovered finding small ways to keep everyone's spirits up went a long way. For our office, I instituted an end-of-the-week toast. Once the week was all done, we would celebrate successfully making it through another week on our own.
You don't have to do a toast. Instead you might want to instigate a weekly lunch out, changing work locations, going for a walk, etc. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to add a fun twist to what could be a potentially stressful time.
Finally, rejoice! As distant as it might seem in the moment, your boss will return at some point and when he or she does, I am sure that like me, you will value them all the more. You just had a unique chance to get a glimpse into their world. They carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, and hopefully the time you spent filling in for them, makes you value them all the more.
Image Source: mod as hell