CAREERS: Pandora's problem page

Q: I was recently promoted to a management position in my small

firm, supervising two staff members. I was very excited about taking on

this new responsibility, but this is the first time that I have had to

manage other employees. The trouble is, I am not very good at it.

Neither of the two people seem to have any respect for what I say. When

I ask them to do something, they don't pay attention to the deadlines I

set. When I try to be stern, they make fun of me, or act like I am just

making a joke. I am starting to think that I made a huge mistake

accepting this position. What makes things even more complicated is that

prior to my promotion, I was on the same level as the people that I now

supervise. How can I become a more effective manager, without alienating

my staff?

Ms. D, Akron, OH

A: Yours is a common conundrum. You have transitioned from just being

one of the gang to being one of the big shots (relatively speaking,


Taking on a new position requires more than just adding a new job title

to your business card. A promotion often demands that you make a

fundamental shift in your approach to the job. This is important for

your own handling of the position, as well as helping others adapt to

your change in status.

Think of yourself as a corporation undergoing a major rebranding. There

are several factors to consider. For example, have you adapted your

style of dress to this new job?

If you typically wore casual attire in your former position, it might be

a good idea to dress in a more business-like style. Remember that

people's perception of you is based partially on superficial


More importantly, you must clearly communicate to your staff that you

take your new responsibilities seriously. Pay attention to your tone of

voice and the words that you use when setting assignments. When you set

deadlines, enforce them. Don't join in the banter when the staff try to

minimize your words with humor. And don't be afraid of being a bit

humorless for a while. Soon, your staff will begin to recognize your new

position, and you will be able to relax. Ultimately, you will enjoy

discovering this new side of yourself.

Q: Like many people in PR, a large part of my job is spent making and

receiving phone calls. That's my problem. I am great in face-to-face

meetings, but on the phone I become a blathering fool. I never get to

the point, and I can sense the impatience of people I am talking to. It

is even worse when I am cold-calling the media. If they sound busy or

impatient, I just fall apart. How can I overcome this hugely crippling


Mr. A, San Diego

A: The telephone is one of PR's most important platforms, and you would

be amazed at how many people are not effective when using it. Before you

even pick up the phone, you should quickly jot down the points that you

want to convey during the call. Try and cover all the topics you need to

hit, so that you are not left floundering. You will be astounded at how

helpful this is. Avoid idle chit-chat about the weather, how-are-yous,

and other meaningless clutter.

When cold-calling the media, before launching into your pitch, simply

ask the person if this is a good time to talk. If not, make an

appointment and call later. When you show consideration to journalists

on the phone, they really appreciate it.

Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at

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