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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.