Can I ask to be acting manager?

posted 1 year ago in Career
Post # 16
2398 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

Just want to add that asking for more work isn’t necessarily a good thing in every employers eyes- especially when you’re asking to do their job while they are away for such a short time, if you decide to. I agree with previous bees, I think it’s a terrible idea.

IMO unless your feedback at review was perfect you’ve got no business asking to be the ‘acting manager’ when I’m sure there are plenty of people at your work who have been there longer and are more qualified in that sense. Not only that 9 months is a pin drop.

If your manager wanted you to do this, they would ask.

Post # 17
6347 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 2009 - New York, NY

I’m a regional manager, and when I decide (emphasis on I decide) to delegate duties on one of my direct reports, the decision is based on who is more experienced with the company culture and understands well how I operate.  Also, who I think will exercise better judgment.  I then follow seniority to decide who is assigned first, with more frequency, or gets longer assignments.

It’s not a good move to ask.  In my case, you asking would not have the results you want, since I find it out of line.  Asking if there’s something you could assist with during my absence, like PP suggested, is a better option.

Post # 18
8750 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

View original reply
shadows9x :  I’m also going to vote against asking to be acting manager. There really is no need for a couple of weeks in such a small department. You’ll look power hungry rather than like you’re trying to help.

At my old job I was out for a week and did not need to appoint an acting manager. But one girl took it upon herself to try and fill that role and she too lacks “soft skills” and I finally got a call because the resulting drama had spread to the entire office. To say I was unhappy is an understatement. I told her to knock it off and that I didn’t appreciate that her BS was interrupting my vacation and that we’d have a long talk upon my return. The only reason she wasn’t fired was because she was good at her own job. She was just really really bad at mine. 

At that job I also had another subordinate who kept calling himself a “manager” because he assigned tasks to a secretary. It annoyed the crap out of her, me, and the attorneys. Sure, technically yes he is managing her workflow, but he had no authority over her performance reviews, salary, etc. It was more of a collaborative pairing but he was the kind of guy that just needed to have a title. No one liked working with him. 

Post # 19
872 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2019

I agree with everyone else. 2-3 weeks doesn’t seem long enough to warrant an acting manager.  At least in my company for long scenarios where a replacement is necessary (maternity or medica leave) they’ve usually brought in freelance or someone else in the building vs elevating someone into that role.  I think something to keep in mind is that if it is a management role, the leadership/management experience is important so it’s not just about having the task-based skills needed.

Post # 20
10216 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

I would say “Is there anything I can do for you while you’re gone?” and leave it at that. 

Post # 21
1007 posts
Bumble bee

Agree with everyone else that you should not ask under these circumstances given that she’s only going to be out for 3 weeks.  If she were going to be gone much longer or if she left the company altogether, I would ask but I would also have a strong case as to why I’m suited to take on the responsibility.  From what I’ve seen, stepping up after a manage’rs departure is a viable way to get promoted, and you definitely have to let the powers that be know that you’d like to be considered for the job or else they’ll bring in someone else before you know it.  But like I said – you need a strong case with a good track record of performance.   It also helps to have started doing some of the things your manager previously was doing to show that you’re capable.  

Post # 22
1705 posts
Bumble bee

This sounds like something Dwight would do on The Office. So no, it’s not a good idea. 

Post # 23
2225 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I would not ask to be acting manager. This is going beyond asking for a raise or promotion; you’d be asking to fill in someone else’s job. This guy knows he’s going to be out; he already has a plan for who will fill in. That combined with the fact that your department is only one other person (who’s been there longer than you), you’ve been there less than a year, and you’ve already been critiqued on your soft skills says it’s best not to ask this. 

Post # 24
731 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: City, State

No, stop getting ideas above your station and work on areas you’ve been told to improve before you go deciding you can do a job above your pay grade after only being in a company less than a year. You’re not at all established in that company. You’ll just go around rubbing people the wrong way especially if you have poor soft skills. Soft skills are essential to being a good manager so don’t even think about it until you have improved them. 

Post # 25
1074 posts
Bumble bee

I concur with every single PP and recommend that you merely ask what you can do to assist in his absence. Office politics (dynamics) are a tricky business and missteps such as what you are proposing, however well-meaning, can leave a negative lasting impression.

Post # 26
37 posts

I manage a team of 8 and am going to echo other posters and say that asking to be acting manager is unlikely to be received well, not because your manager is likely to be threatened (because realistically having a great team member who could do my job is good for the team, me, and the company as a whole), but because there are very few management tasks you would be able to assist with during such a short absence. When I am out of office on vacation (usually 2-3 weeks), all of my duties related to personnel management are covered by either my own manager or my peer managers. Many companies require specific manager trainings pertaining to HR policies, etc. and it wouldn’t make sense to have a non-manger complete these trainings for such a short absence. My operational and project duties are either deferred, or I assign the task to one of my team members and do a handoff to ensure they understand what is expected in my absence and who to work with to answer questions or address any issues that come up.


You seem to be very enthusiastic about taking on more responsibility and growing your career, which is fantastic. The first step is definitely to work on improving your soft skills and addressing the other feedback from your performance review. (Slight tangent, what do you mean you need to be more of a “yes” person? My understanding of that phrase is someone who agrees with everything their superior suggests instead of thinking critically and offering alternatives or helping to identify potential risks, and this isn’t something a good manager would encourage. Was the feedback perhaps that you can come across as combative or unwilling to compromise?)  


As you work to address the feedback from your review, keep a list of specific actions you are taking and share it with your manager. (Keeping a written list in One Note or your preferred note taking system is especially helpful if your company does self assessments as part of their performance reiview process since it will give you specific details to include. I keep notes for my own accomplisments during the year, as well as each of my employees’ accomplishments.) When you have 1-1’s or performance conversations with your manager, let them know where you want to go with your career and what you are doing to prepare. Ask them what else you could be doing. During any performance conversations, formally document your goals and what you will do to achieve them, as well as your progress from the previous year. Most companies will not let you structure professional development goals like “If I do a, b, and c, I will promote to a management role by the end of 2019” but they will let you put something like “In preparation for a future management role, I am going to complete a by June 2019, b by Sept 2019, and c by EOY.”  This level of specificity will help you in your conversations with your manager (“A manager position has opened up on team x. I would like to apply and bring experience from doing a, b, and c.”) or with HR if your manager sends you mixed messages or attempts to stand in the way of your taking on management duties for another team (which would be a typical promotion path unless your manager is promoted and you get promoted to backfill them).


This is probably more detail than you need, but I wanted to give some constructive next steps for you to take to advance your career since your thougt of asking to be acting manager shows great enthusiasm but isn’t likely to be well received. 

Post # 27
1483 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2019 - City, State

Yeah no…do not do this.  Maybe ask if there’s something you could do in their absence, but even then, I don’t think it’s necessary.  People make plans for when they’re out of the office.

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