Many people aspire to be promoted to a managerial position as the key part of their career goals. It can be very rewarding. Many people are left pondering, “How do they get on that management track to begin with?” And, “What do I have to do to prepare?”
Both good questions, let’s outline what needs to take place to become a manager.
1. Outline your goals to your management. Get your boss in your corner to help mentor you and to give you opportunities to prove you are management material.
2. Look for opportunities to take on more. A key element to a management position is initiative. You won’t be told what to do, you have to assume responsibility and direction. Most groups have far more work than manpower to perform it all. Look for items that will create real impact to the business. Those will get you visibility which is important to your goals.
3. Find a role model. Observe the people who manage and find someone who you believe is both a great manager and is successful. Ask for them to mentor you and observe how they perform theirmanagement job. What makes them successful? You want to emulate some of that behavior.
4. Take classes and read. There are tons of management classes and books on management. Look for ones that are oriented toward the basics and beginning management as they will outline what you need to do in these early days. Higher level materials, while interesting, will assume you know these things and won’t go into much detail.
5. Ask to fill in. The boss will go on vacation or business travel. They have work to be done while they’re away and you can volunteer to cover for them or minimally to pick up some tasks of theirs. This will give you a taste of the work being performed and again demonstrate your ability to take on higher level responsibilities.
6. Seek leadership roles. A great way to get started in management is to take on the role of project management or leader to a work effort. Many of the needed management skills are used in these situations. You are facilitating a group of people to get something accomplished. To do that you will exercise such things as: planning, directing, communicating, gaining agreement, following up, and so on. Projects are a key way for business to get done and someone has to lead the effort – that can be you.
If you prepare yourself well, your first management position it can be the thing that will catapult you into higher levels and greater impact to your business. You need to make sure that at this stage you have thought through just how different this job is from what you have done before so you can shift gears to be equally awesome as a manager.