Temporary Role etiquette

Hi all, long time listener first time caller.

I currently work as a manager of a small department, my current boss will be on leave for 5 weeks and I am stepping up into her role. I will move into her office for the duration of her leave. The problem I have, is that her office is covered in photos, of her friends and there is lots of holiday memrobilia everywhere. To be honest, I really want her role permanently and i think that I am better at it than her.

I want to do big changes in the department so execs notice over this 5 week period. My question here is, can I take down all her photos and hide the memrobilia, to make the office mine. I was thinking about putting up my own stuff as well. I don't want her glaring down on me from all the photos..

After a meeting with senior management today I had some excellent support for my ideas. A walk around the office has highlighted the poor image the company is purveying. Thus an office wide cleanup will be conducted. Especially targetting excessive photos!

On a final note. I would have to say, that you have to say true to yourself, otherwise you are just another grain of sand in a beach of people.

If I may finish with another quote:
Bravery and stupidity are the same thing, it's the outcome that determines the label…

We will see in a few months

closed Comments

  • +228 votes

    Not sure if serious, but if you're acting in her role for only 5 weeks no you cannot remodel her office and remove all her personal effects. If she was on a different assignment for, say, 6 months? Maybe you could discuss it with her in a respectful, professional manner. 5 weeks leave? You're dreaming.

    • +8 votes

      ^^^this response, spot on. If you did remove her photos it would do more harm than good, trust me.


      pop some white office paper over it real get to you. just remove before she get back. my last came see photo remove person now looking for new job.

  • +65 votes

    No, you shouldn't.

    You are stepping into an acting role, you'd be overstepping your mark doing any of what you propose which has the potential to backfire on you big time. Be very careful of what you do in this time. I'd be asking for clarification about what is expected of you during this time. Are you expected to just 'hold the fort' or more? Nothing stopping you putting proposals forward to higher up for improvements etc. and see what they say.

    Good luck, and congrats on the 'step up'.

    • +11 votes

      Even though you are filling in while your boss is away, she is still your boss. If you want to make "big changes" you should try to do it with her involvement, or at least approval, maybe even advice. Trying to make change while the person is away or unavailable, may be construed as trying to undermine the person that you are filling in for. Changes will not go unnoticed, and with such a short time, you may only get an idea in motion, then your boss returns and you have some 'splaining to do.

      Be better at your current role and support your boss, this will be noticed and appreciated more than being deceptive.

  • +75 votes

    Also, I think re-modeling her office for 5 weeks to 'make it yours' will possibly come across as pretentious and being on a 'power trip'.

  • +205 votes

    Holy shit I would fire you.

    • +73 votes


      i think that I am better at it than her

      Hope you are better than her at self awareness

    • +41 votes

      Holy shit I would fire you.

      No doubt happening in 5 weeks time. lol

      • +2 votes

        We can only hope she is on OzB!

  • +25 votes

    I've never worked in a company where any significant change happens within 5 weeks (and 5 weeks will fly by in an instant). People and companies are resistant to change just out of habit, process, red tape etc.

    By all means make some suggestions but don't hold your breath. The execs may have your manager's back and tell you to wait till she returns…I would leave the office as is though.

    If you really have to in order to feel comfortable, take photos of how things are now, remove and replace what you want and put it back before she returns. If you have a chance, I would let your manager know you are doing so in advance though.

    Good luck!

  • +38 votes

    scan, edit and print every photo so that Tom Hanks is in the background

    • +2 votes

      I say do random celebs in a few photos. Not all but a few.


        Perfect opportunity to bring back the Moshzilla Girl!

        Put a few of her in the photos!!


      I would prefer Nicholas Cage


      Mix your photobombing meme's!

  • +21 votes

    Would you take down the family photos if you were house sitting for someone for 5 weeks?

    • +138 votes

      Probably, if he thought he was a better house owner than they are.

      • +7 votes

        And soup up the family car cause he a better driver also.

        • +20 votes

          wait till he posts here about not having insurance

        • +3 votes

          And she's gonna try to use her big changes, so the husband notice [her superiority] over this 5 week period.

    • +129 votes


      You will need this in 5 weeks.

  • +21 votes

    If your ideas for change will bring improvements, why don’t you propose them to your boss, while she is around. Why do you need to wait till she is on leave, and then propose the changes to higher-ups? It will look as if you wish to upstage your boss, and going behind her back.

    As for not being able to concentrate with others' photos around you, maybe you can learn to be more adaptable. Many consultants (esp short-term ones) are sent to clients’ environments to work, and they are put into less than ideal environments to work in all the time. Yet they are expected to be productive.

    Having said that, if you move the photos around a bit to be more convenient, but restore them back into their proper place before your boss gets back, it should be OK.

    • +1 vote

      Sometimes the immediate boss is of questionable character, hates the employee, short sighted or doesn't like to look inferior so any good / exceptional proposition will always get shot down before it ever gets seriously considered.
      In worse cases, they steal that idea and claim it as their own, solidifying their position even more.

      There is no way to bypass this sort of boss/manager to the one above (to propose your ideas) without causing drama. This would be the perfect scenario and excuse to show off your ideas which would otherwise have never seen the light of day.

      • +1 vote

        Sometimes the immediate boss is of questionable character, hates the employee, short sighted or doesn't like to look inferior so any good / exceptional proposition will always get shot down before it ever gets seriously considered.
        In worse cases, they steal that idea and claim it as their own, solidifying their position even more.

        This can happen, but I doubt the the OP would have gotten the call up for 5 weeks if that is the case here…unless there was no one else or the boss thinks they are setting the OP up to fail???


          Who knows. It's all speculation right now anyway unless OP's clarified it elsewhere, but from his replies my bet is that he's leaning on the dodgy side. Anyway, just throwing a possible example scenario out there.

      • +2 votes

        If you are good at what you do, just focus on the job and produce results, be known as someone who has no power/ego trip, do not care if others claim credit for your ideas – usually, in time the boss will adopt your good ideas. After all, it is in the self-interest of the boss to succeed.

        Some people seem afraid the boss claims credit for their ideas; but I have always found this to be rather beneficial. Few reasons:

        • if they are good ideas, the department prospers and grows, the side-effect is that the boss always listens to you more, you get rewarded and become the henchman or deputy.

        • If you are good in your work, this is bound to leak out to the upper management via the manager, collegues, clients. And they will notice anyway. The analogy is that 10% of the ice-berg is seen, 90% is hidden. Even if boss claims credit for the majority, if there is enough of it, a small portion is still substantial.

        • Good enough if any pay-rise suggested by the boss for you (which will be higher if s/he thinks highly of you) will go unapposed by management, due to how valuable you are. At the end of the day, why replace your boss?

        • The real benefit I find (and not saying this applies to all occupations) : the boss got to do the dirty work – attend those endless boring meetings and I got to do the more fun stuff :-). (At one job, I was amused, because my boss was sometimes like a PA to me, organising/facilitating things so that I could focus on the job at hand; he would because my success was his as well). Anyway, if you are good, eventually even if you try to hide, you are forced into the upper management.

        But if an employee has a lot of ego, likes to outshine and displace boss or collegues etc, then ironically, this increases the likelihood that his/her ideas will not be adopted or implemented.

        And if after a while of trying, the management or boss still do not recognise your ideas and contribution, you can always go to another company that does.

        • +5 votes

          I think it's nice that there's optimistic people like you out there. Maybe someday you'll be top manager and pass on those nice ideals, but I've worked for a multinational capitalistic-scum american-owned company with a branch in Aus and the atmosphere is really different.

          You really had to be some kind of special narcissist to make your way up to the top of the ladder because they drop employees even if a single quarter's earnings was bad. One time top management's order was to trim 10% off every department, regardless if they were senior / outstanding employee.
          Had to really step on other people to shine and show yourself you're too important to fire.


          @Blitzfx: Not so optimistic :-), I feel quite bleak about human nature sometimes. Have worked in quite a few varied environments; have observed how M&A activities of overseas parent affected local subsidiary; as well as company that grew to international level, and then acquired. The amount of politics observed does seem to depend on one’s current role and the stage of a company’s life-cycle.

          But I have always stuck to the basic tenet – do the best job I can, and let the results speak for themselves. Heck with everything else. But did get a few hits from those who were adept at politics. Luckily, by building a strong armour/weapon class, i.e. by maintaining a good reputation and acquiring skills, was able to sustain such hits with relatively little damage, or when I decided to leave, I would be employable elsewhere.

          I guess what I am saying, it is possible to maintain one’s integrity, and play by one’s rule, at any level one has reached. So long as one is willing to give it all up, and be prepared to leave, when the company’s culture turns too toxic or frustrating.

          It is hard enough to do the real work; if a company requires those who thrive and survive play politics to stay there, then it is not a company to work for, in my opinion. Politics is exhausting – even if you are not playing it, but just trying to fend it off. And quite right, there is more of it the higher you go. (Funny, when I was a mere worker, the boss shielded me from politics, which was great. And, later managed to keep my own team relatively politics-free).

          Which is why, I finally decided to quit the rat-race/corporate area, and became self-employed. Also, because I felt life is more than just work, but about other things as well.

  • +12 votes

    Honestly OP, if you play it this way, the exec(s) will certainly be talking about you. None of it favourably.

    Mr "I Want To Make ALL The Changes" doesn't have the stones to offer up business improvement ideas unless it's clear he gets credit for it? (profanity) you, bastard guy… How much have you cost us by holding this back?

    Oh, you can't concentrate because the photos are distracting you? (profanity) you, bastard guy, learn how to work in less than optimal conditions.

    I'd sack you as soon as HR gave me the all clear.

    • +2 votes

      That's if the execs notice…in my experience most have no idea what's going on in the trenches…be surprised if they even go into the OP's temporary office.

      • +2 votes

        You mean, the OP's New Office.
        OP seems pretty intent on getting noticed, and the execs will notice, but not favourably.

      • +9 votes

        A) I didn't say you would be fired, I said your actions would be noticed, although not favourably.

        B) I also said that I would fire you, as soon as I had clearance from HR, and I'd be asking them to be as creative as possible in order to get that clearance but still adhering to the FWA.

        Point is, your actions lack integrity, and that's what I'd be noticing. As has previously been mentioned, there's every possibility that your current boss had as say in you stepping into the role in her absence, either thinking you had what it takes, or thinking that your ineptitude would sink you. If the former is the case, you've had the knife out before her seat has even cooled down, if its the latter then you're doing a bang up job of proving her right…

        How hard do you think HR (or even a mid-level manager for that matter) would need to work to find grounds for dismissal and still following the Fair Work Act to the letter?

        Side note: the fact that you're already anteing up with FWA and unfair dismissal speaks volumes.

        • +8 votes


          Obviously, I'm not being clear, so I will reiterate.

          I did NOT say you would be fired, I said that I would fire you (me, my personal course of action, would be to find a way to fire you).

          The Fair Work Act isn't some sort of magic shield that protects everyone from getting fired, it ensures fair treatment… Do you really think there's no way to fire you? Would it be an instant process? No. Is it possible? Yes.

          TO REITERATE ONE MORE TIME… I am not saying you will be fired.

          Also, don't you have a company to restructure?

        • +1 vote

          @bzboss: the act protects no one if there are performance issues. And when someone gets fired, they only excuse ever given is performance, even if far fetched.

        • +2 votes


          How much do you know about the concepts of fiduciary duty and treason?

          Start looking for a new job now. If your current employer knows half as much about you as we do, your lack of principles will already have earmarked you for the replacement.

        • +5 votes

          @bzboss: You don't get fired. Your role is removed from the org chart and a sufficiently changed (like 20%) new role is created as a restructure. You get redundant. I have seen this time and again.


          Either that or your new desk is in the hallway next to the toilets.

          ..and when you start getting settled you'll be consistently moved to new smaller, disgusting corner of nowhere.

          That's no to mention the workload of monotonous, repetitive, ignored 'work' (that someone else did 6 months ago).

        • +1 vote

          @Gareth: I think there was a documentary on this called "Office Space". The employee was Milton Waddams.

        • +3 votes

          "And I said, I don't care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I'm, I'm quitting, I'm going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they've moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it's not okay because if they take my stapler then I'll set the building on fire…" Milton Waddams


          @Adz81: Have you got the link to the youtube clip? Thanks :-)

        • +1 vote



          This is one of them, I don't have sound on my work PC, but Googling Milton Waddams Office Space will throw up some results.


          @Adz81: My goodness, the last bit was funny … stuff took so long to save…, he still got caught by boss. Thanks, laughed so hard.

        • +1 vote

          @bluesky: Watch the whole movie!


          @John Kimble: Yeah, I will …


          @kanad: this is all anyone does if they want to remove someone easily. you can them make the 'motivational fit' questions effectively pass/fail and remove someone super qualifies and experienced if you like.

      • +3 votes

        Insubordination, over-stepping your authority, inability to get along with your team. I can see you getting a formal warning out of this at the least. Even before anyone gets creative with a restructure of your section.



          What are you on about?

          You have been insubordinate.

          Google says:
          defiant of authority; disobedient to orders."

          Re-modelling your boss' office is an excellent example of over-stepping authority. And no Ozbargain user can give you permission to do so.

          If this topic on OzB isn't an example of an inability to get on with your team (showing no respect for personal property or the boss' position) I don't know what is.

          But I'm still not convinced this thread is genuine. On the off chance it is, enjoy unemployment.

      • +1 vote

        Keep pissing people off at work and see how easy your work life gets in the end.

        Just because they cannot fire you for removing other peoples photos at their workstation doesnt mean they cannot make a formal complaint to HR about it.

        And you want to impose a limit on personal items one can have at their desk.

        Dont be surprise if onetime they all have a meeting and you are left out purposely if you keep power tripping.

        • +2 votes

          Wow the OP is coming across as arrogant AF. Yeah we've heard of the Fair Work Act, have you heard of cultivating productive working relationships?

  • +5 votes

    Its easier to just take over her family!

    • +2 votes

      You can picture the OP pasting himself into all of the boss's photos too, huh?

      • +2 votes

        C'mon guys, he/she is a "bzboss", they will not have time for such shenanigans…they will be "bz" being a boss and being super awesome at it within 5 weeks.


        Its probably easier! lol If your going to try and dominate may as well do it properly right? lol

    • +1 vote

      Five weeks is plenty of time to seduce and marry her husband.

  • +17 votes

    Why did you join OzBargain this evening to ask this?

    • +7 votes

      Has to be a troll.

  • +19 votes

    OP, are you Dwight Schrute from the Office?

    • +3 votes

      Next he will paint the walls black to instill fear and introduce bzboss bucks

    • +3 votes

      I wonder if OP is "Assistant to the Regional Manager" and is gunning for the "Assistant Regional Manager" position.


      OP's trying to to pull a Nellie

  • Users are encouraged and welcome to give their opinions but attacking the OP is not acceptable. Commenting Guidelines

  • +8 votes

    Thanks for the laugh OP

    I admire your confidence.

    • +12 votes

      Just put a poster over the wall and take it down five weeks later.

      • +1 vote

        Put a poster of themselves sitting in the office, with a poster of themselves in the background. When the original office owner comes back, they'll be the one being stared at infinitely.

    • +9 votes

      again. not your office. not your desk.

      better put. how would you like it if they did this to your office/desk?

      • +1 vote

        And if you attempt to make any change to her office - you can bet that someone in the office who is a buddy of hers - will let her know whilst she is away.