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I just learned that one of our managers is going to be leaving our organization (I work for a large, US, Federal Agency in California). I am currently not a supervisor, nor on the former manager's team, although I am a senior employee by grade.

I intend to request being assigned as acting supervisor for his team, as his product line is very similar to mine. Specifically, I will be writing a "business plan" explaining why it would be good for my senior leadership to assign me as an acting supervisor. I am prepared that they will say no.

My question are the following:

  • Are there any good alternatives to my plan, either as supplements or subsitutes to my plan?

  • What are some of the items I should cover in my business plan to senior management?

  • What is a good way to get the plan to senior management without seeming as going behind my own supervisor's back? (My supervisor is generally understanding and supportive of personal growth, but this is our busy time of year, and I am a little wary that she would outright veto the idea without pushing it further.)

Please note: I feel this question is different enough in scope as How Should I Approach My Boss About a Raise or Promotion?, as I am looking for guidance on a specific action and how to present it in way that shows its is in my senior management's best in.

edited for spelling

  • Do you have any kind of relationship with the departing supervisor? Do you have a body of work related to what you're about to request? How is your relationship with your current supervisor? Are you willing to take on the additional responsibility without any increment in pay/rank/administrative authority? – kolossus Jul 29 '14 at 23:05
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    I would also add that you should suggest that it is a good learning/development experience for yourself and make this an objective - if you have a personnel development plan. – Pepone Jul 29 '14 at 23:17
  • @colossus this is a federal job there are rules about "acting up" that would have to be followed. – Pepone Jul 29 '14 at 23:18
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My personal opinion is that a business plan would likely be overkill. Unless, the senior manager you're going to speak with has a track record of desiring and valuing business plans then I wouldn't go through that much work. Instead, I would think there are better uses of your time and effort to get the role. Before that allow to address some potential risks associated with the plan of a written business plan.

I see two risks with a formal written business plan as well: (1) a plan usually promises goals; and (2) a written plan can be distributed.

The risk in promising the achievement of goals is that you may not be able to achieve them. This may sound like I am advising that you avoid committing to a goal, but I would say that you avoid committing to a goal until you clearly understand the situation and the team. Once you have a more complete understanding of that situation and the unique challenges it presents you can then produce a set of goals with a better understanding of whether those are realistic goals.

The risk in producing a written plan that can be distributed is that it could be handed to your immediate supervisor and then they will be free to react as they see fit. You seem to be fearful of this manager thus I would suggest if you're going to be cautious with her then exercise full caution.

Instead, I would recommend a networking-style strategy or an indirect strategy. With the networking strategy I would communicate to as many people who influence the senior manager that you believe you would do well as the acting manager if given the chance. Then ask them for any information they have regarding the concerns or desires of the that senior manager when selecting the acting supervisor. Eventually, that networking would culminate in a conversation with the senior manager where you express your interest in the position and suggest the most supportive of your networking nodes as recommendations.

In the indirect strategy, I would just start supervising the group without a supervisor in an ad-hoc fashion is whatever way you can. If it's scheduling, offer to help with the schedule. If it's approvals/overrides, offer to pick up some of the slack. Slowly, start collecting pieces of the acting supervisor role and then approach the senior manager about taking on the whole role.

In this pursuit be wary of sacrificing performance in your current role. If the senior manager seriously considers you but sees a recent trend of poor performance then you shouldn't be surprised if you're not given the opportunity.

That's what I would recommend based on the information provided. Feel free to comment with more info and I can tweak my responses.

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