Dear Coach Joan,

HELP! I’M LOST!  I am committed to my new  job and was told it would be a challenge. But without guidance and instruction I feel like I am blindfolded and headed for real trouble.

The good news is that I’ve landed a very challenging new job with a lot of responsibility, significant compensation increase and it’s in just the industry I love, design work. The bad news is that my manager is giving me so much autonomy that I really don’t know how to do my job! I have five direct reports and there is a fairly complex process by which we do our work. We carry dozens of projects at a time and all must be correctly done through th all stages. Much of this is new to me, plus I am now supervising the work of five other professionals, several who seem to resent me as they competed for this job, too. Much of the time my manager is out of the office and I’m pressed to make decisions that I often don’t feel qualified to make.

Awaiting your advice,


Dear Nancy,

Yes, this is a RED FLAG situation and you need to alert your manager ASAP that you need her input. Tell her you are so appreciative that she hired you and has faith in your capabilities but that you are smart enough to recognize when you need some counsel and training.

  1. DETAIL YOUR CONCERNS: I think you should consider writing her a detailed email explaining that you are committed to doing a great job but at least at the beginning you need more input and direction so you can ensure that the work is done properly and is not subject to error. Tell her that you’d like to meet one on one for an hour or so asap. Explain that you are up for this challenge but do need her input in the following areas and specify what they are. Make it EASY for her to quickly get you up to speed. You might even put it in a 10 question format where you leave room for her to fill in the blanks either in a one on one or live, together!

2. ASK FOR RESOURCES: And if there are classes, blogs, webinars, books, professional training that can directly help you on the job. You also might ask her if there are other people and resources you can turn to when she is not there. You also might ask her to re-introcued you to your team, establishing your credentials and capabilities so your direct reports realize why you were selected for the job.

3. A SHADOW DAY: You also might want to see if she can commit to a day of working with you closely so you can let her know when specific issues and questions come up that you need her experience and knowledge about. A shadow day where you can do the work together and discuss her thinking and decision making process would be very helpful.

4. READ OTHER DEAR JOAN ARTICLES: And Nancy, please read my past Dear Coach Joan articles on both ‘Smart Ways to Start a new Job‘  and ‘6 Ways to be a Great Manager‘.  Do a weekly status report and let your manager know that this has proven to be an excellent planning, accountability and communication tool between you and your manager.  In it you list your key accomplishments for the week,  plans for the next week and any open issues.

In the long run this kind of communication and conversation should help you get the training you need while building an honest and candid relationship with her.

Onward to your proactive communications, training and job success.


Coach Joan