A bigger paycheck. More authority. The ability to make a greater organizational impact. Increased autonomy.
The upsides to management are tempting – who wouldn’t want more money and power? But along with these advantages come greater responsibility, higher expectations and accountability for your own actions, as well as your team’s. So before you jump at an opportunity for this type of advancement, be sure you’re up to the challenge. Find out if you’re management material by considering these questions:
Do you have confidence? A good manager is sure of himself and his abilities. He is happy with who he is, while striving to learn and improve himself.
Are you a good communicator? Competent managers are adept at communicating with subordinates, peers and superiors. While able to clearly explain themselves and share vital information, successful managers are equally skilled at receiving information (i.e., listening).
Are you an extrovert? Not surprisingly, good managers enjoying being around, and working with, other people. Although it’s not necessary to be the “life of the party” to be a capable manager, individuals who are extremely introverted or who have social phobias should think twice before accepting supervisory duties.
Are you empathetic? A natural manager understands how others feel, why they feel that way, and what he can do to make people feel differently. Whether dealing with external or internal customers, a manager should be able to analyze the impact his decisions have on others and act accordingly.
Can you delegate? No manager can do it all – that’s why he has subordinates. A combination of art and science, delegation involves determining how to accomplish a large objective by dividing up and assigning tasks in manageable chunks. To delegate effectively, you must understand: the strengths and limitations of individual team members; work capacities, flow processes and interdependencies; how to assign deadlines, hold people accountable and measure success.
Are you willing to “take the heat?” Despite his best efforts, a manager has to overcome obstacles, resolve conflicts and solve problems. Even when it’s not directly his fault (e.g., a supplier doesn’t deliver needed materials on time), it’s the manager’s responsibility to take the heat – and keep it from affecting his team.
Are you a problem solver? When it gets “hot in the kitchen,” a great manager will: inform upper management as soon as possible; assume responsibility for the problem and for solving it; propose a number of potential solutions; use all available resources to overcome the problem; determine the cause of the problem and take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Are you focused? Efficient leaders are both organized and focused. Naturally proactive, they are able to prioritize responsibilities and provide direction for their teams. Perhaps most importantly, great managers can strike the right balance of focus between their staff’s needs and the need to accomplish organizational goals.
Preparing Yourself for Management
If you are interested in becoming a manager, but lack some of the basic skills required, don’t be discouraged. In fact, many of the traits required for management success can be learned. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself for management:
Meet with your supervisor. Explain your desire to take on a management role when it becomes available. Ask your direct supervisor for feedback on your strengths, as well as areas you should improve upon to equip yourself for the additional responsibility. Use this feedback, as well as your own self-assessment, to create a professional development plan.
Arm yourself with knowledge. Go to your local library or bookstore, or conduct research online to learn more about what it takes to become a great manager. Alternately, contact a local community college to learn more about available management seminars or classes.
Volunteer for a management role. Look for opportunities (either on the job or within your community) to test the management waters and increase your skills by heading up a project or committee. While it may not increase your pay or change your job title, any chance you have to learn by leading will put you one step closer to reaching your goal.
Find a mentor. A great source of advice and guidance, a mentor can help you grow both personally and professionally. This person could be your boss, another manager in your organization, or even someone outside the company. Together, you can enact your professional plan to attain your management goals.