The fear of being ridiculed is much greater these days. Managers’ spans of responsibility have increased following the cull of management posts. So the chances of being caught out by a question on a service you have only recently taken responsibility for are considerably greater. Bad enough in front of a big audience of front line staff but a lot more awkward if it’s the chief executive who is exposing your ignorance in front of the senior management team and worst still if it is that member of the opposition party who likes to ask obscure questions in front of the rest of the committee. Of course the standard response is to say you don’t have that information to hand but you will find out and get back to them. Better still if you can turn to the relevant manager and say can you answer this .Provided of course that the relevant manager is present.
This fear is part of a wider anxiety experienced by many mangers on taking up a new post that they will be found out that people will realise they are not up to the job. Whilst it is true that some people get over promoted these don’t tend to be the ones who suffer self doubt. No this type of anxiety is a perfectly normal reaction to realising that the new job will require you to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge because good as you were at your last job you cannot know all you need to know from day one. What you need to remember is that no one expects you to. But a word of advice don’t try bluffing it. In the early days of a new post your actions should be guided by the expression when in a hole stop digging.
Blair McPherson author of Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk