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5 minute read

How You Can Grow From an Individual Contributor to a Manager

Moving up from an individual contributor role to being a manager might seem like a natural progression, but what do you need to do to make it seamless? Find out here.

Many professionals in the corporate world view success in their industry as climbing the ladder and advancing their careers in more senior roles over time. Eventually, this means transitioning from the position of an individual contributor into a management role at some stage.

As you might have guessed by the name, an individual contributor is someone who works below a manager in a solo role where they complete projects by themselves or in conjunction with others. They do not hold management responsibilities and have no direct reports.

They are specialists in their field and are fully focused on deliverables set by management, and play an integral role in the success of the business at which they work.

If you are keen to advance your career and are considering taking on a management role, consider the following tips that can definitely help you on your way to taking the next step.

1. Review your expectations

“What I have found in my research is that the transition is often harder than it need be because of new managers’ misconceptions about their role,” says Linda A. Hill, Faculty and Research at Harvard Business School.

Indeed, the shift can often present difficulties. To alleviate these challenges and make the transition seamless, it’s important that your expectations match the role you’re stepping into.

Discuss the role in detail with your boss and HR department so everything is 100% clear and there are no unknowns prior to moving into the role.

It’s also important that you realise your new position as a manager means you may well need to take a step (or two) back from the way you approached projects as an individual contributor. That is, fully immersing yourself in a project as you did before will most likely cause you to neglect the new list of management responsibilities set out for you.

2. Find opportunities to manage others

Generally speaking, companies will be very hesitant to hire you in a management role unless you’ve had some experience as a manager.

As such, speaking with your boss and letting them know you’re interested in taking on more of a leadership role within the team is a great way to open the proverbial doors and be considered whenever a fitting opportunity comes up.

This might be something like mentoring or training a new team member and providing them with the guidance they need to best integrate into the company. You may also want to think about looking externally for opportunities such as charities to donate your time for a good cause while learning invaluable management skills.

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3. Promote learning within the team by teaching

Managers wear multiple hats in the day-to-day operations of a business. From mentor, coach and teacher to support system, you’ll be the go-to person for all of your direct reports. To help your team develop professionally, it’s important to teach them everything you’ve learned over the years and offer them pathways in which to further develop their careers.

While you’re still an individual contributor, the opportunity to teach others may not often present itself. However, it may well surprise you with what you can achieve by being a little more proactive.

One example is to hold a lunch-and-learn session about a topic you’re an expert in. Another is offering to help on-board a new employee, as you’ll be teaching them the company systems and operations.

4. Explore leadership courses

There are seemingly endless management courses out there that will absolutely help you get a leg up if you’re thinking about going after a promotion to a management role – many are even free! Not only will they help you expand your management skills and understanding, but also look great on your CV.

Although challenging, the journey itself is rewarding. With many available opportunities to upskill yourself, making a confident step up into management shouldn’t be a problem.

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