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THE QUESTION

My company has offered me a new position, what I'd call a bit of a "stretch" role. It's somewhat similar to what I do now but in an entirely different area of the company where, while I have some expertise, I will have to get up to speed quickly on topics in which I'm not an expert. I'll be second-in-command to the manager. In my current role I mainly manage myself and am familiar with the issues I deal with. I also have some flexibility with my hours, which helps as I've got a young family. How can I determine if I'm ready for this kind of move and responsibility? I'd hate to take the job and flop, but I know turning it down will hurt my image at the company. How can I prepare myself?

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

Promotions recognize hard work and indicate trust. It's time to do a self assessment. Make a list of pros and cons, likes and dislikes, can's and can't do's. Reflect on how taking the job would make you feel, and how not accepting it would make you feel.

Do you aspire to climb the corporate ladder or are you content at the level and pay scale you are at now? Do you like to learn, do you have the time and dedication to give your all to this new area?

Ask yourself: How long do you think you would be content staying where you are? You don't want to get comfortably complacent. It just might be time to make the move before you suffer from boredom. Staying in one position for an extended period could limit your advancement aspirations down the road and send a negative message to a future employer. However, if you love what you do and are still learning, you might not need to change.

You must get a few more questions answered before you decide. If you are going to be taking on a management role, ask to take courses or a certification program, read books and get a workplace coach. Maybe there is a mentor available to help you get up to speed and who will have your back.

If your intuition has served you well in the past, call on it now, add some reality and then decide.

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THE SECOND ANSWER

Greg Conner

Principal, Human Capital Dynamics, Victoria

As far as my advice goes, let's start with the job itself, and then we can look at your family situation. It is good you are nervous, to me that simply means that you care about how well you will do.

Given you will be leading people for the first time, begin with reflecting on the best managers you have had, and what made them that way. A safe bet for me would be that you will say they supported you, cared about you as a person, focused on your strengths, and gave you full credit for your work. A good start for you would be to emulate those traits. If your company provides leadership training, make sure you take it, and if possible, try to take that before you start the new job.

As far as your family situation goes, it seems like the company currently has no issue with giving you flexibility in recognition of the joys of parenthood, so talk to your new manager about how you will manage your job, yet maintain the flexibility to deal with all the complications a young family brings.

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Good managers and good organizations are supportive of this stage of a parent's career, and if you deal with this up front, you will save lots of headaches later, besides not having to deal with the stress of an unsupportive environment.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com.

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