Many organisations elevate their top performers into management positions as these individuals are often regarded as the trusted experts in their area. However, by promoting an individual who has not developed the right skillset and experience to navigate the management playing field, an organisation can end up with an ineffective manager and a demoralised team.
So what do you need to know before you take the critical step into management?
Know what you want and what’s expected of you as a manager
While it can easy to get a little side tracked by the offer of an impressive title and increased salary package, moving into management takes some careful consideration. Looking past the immediate gains, there are some potential personal and lifestyle costs, such as increased daily pressure and longer working hours. For some individuals, the costs won’t be worth the benefits.
Some questions to ask yourself before you step up into a management role are:
- Am I comfortable making decisions?
- Will I enjoy driving a team to succeed?
- Am I willing to confront people about their behaviour or performance?
- Am I willing to let my team and the group’s performance become the critical indicator of my own?
If you’re unsure, don’t feel ready to tackle the above scenarios, or feel you’re more motivated by being an exceptional individual performer rather than banking everything on a broader team, a managerial role might not be the best fit for you. Alternatively, you may decide that being a manager simply isn’t part of your personal career goals.
Becoming a manager: What are employers looking for?
If you decide you are ready to step up and prove yourself to be an effective leader, you’ll need to show your current or prospective boss that you’re ready to take on the additional responsibility. This is especially the case if you don’t have previous experience in a managerial position. Aside from the general experience and knowledge that’s needed, employers are also looking at two key things when selecting the next manager: soft skills, leadership abilities and administrative and financial understanding.
When it comes to hiring an effective manager, most employers are looking for soft skills as much as serious technical qualifications and abilities. You can be the highest performing person in your team, but if you’re not a particularly good listener or you don’t buy into the company vision, you’ll be much less likely to be given managerial responsibilities. Other important soft skills include negotiation, time management, delegation, teamwork and communication.
One of the most important soft skills a manager should have is the ability to inspire, direct and lead others. While you’re responsible for managing a team, you can only do this well by being an effective leader. A good leader leads his or her team towards a particular goal or vision, guiding them through challenges and hurdles to achieve a clear objective. Creativity, magnanimity and even a good sense of humour are all traits that can assist you to become an effective leader.
Administrative and financial understanding
You don’t need to be an accountant to become a manager. However, team managers do need to demonstrate an understanding of administrative processes and basic financial models because they are usually responsible for internal budget allocations. Budget management also involves working with other teams and departments to complete projects and meet deadlines, so will impact the output of your broader team.
Having a clear understanding of these factors will give employers confidence in your ability to make the move into management and look after a critical component of their business – the employees.