Office Coach: New manager should ask for authority

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Question: After being promoted to a deputy director position in my agency, I initially felt excited and grateful. However, I have now become disillusioned because the director doesn't include me in any activities. I am supposed to be her backup, yet I know nothing about her job. She also questions any ideas that I propose.

I have a shy personality, so I'm not sure how to gain authority in my new role. So far, this promotion has involved a change in title and pay, but no real increase in responsibility. How can I stop being a token deputy?

Answer: Although you're feeling intentionally excluded, it's unlikely that the director would choose you for this job and then deliberately sabotage your success. A more probable explanation is that your "shy personality" is keeping you on the sidelines.

While having a quiet temperament can be an advantage, timidity will only hold you back, so you need to display more self-confidence. If you wish to be included in a project, explain why your involvement would be helpful. When the director questions your ideas, don't immediately abandon them.

Because a deputy's duties are largely determined by what the person above decides to delegate, these positions are often poorly defined. Since your current job description appears to have some gaps, take the initiative to draft a new one, then review it with your boss.

People who are afraid to ask for what they want frequently become unhappy and disgruntled. Since resentment never helped anyone's career, appropriate assertiveness is a skill that everyone needs to develop.


Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Send in questions and get free coaching tips at


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