Top 10 Tips: Getting into Management
Have you thought about where you’d like to see your career go in the next five years? A lot of people I work with tell me they want to be a manager in the future, but they’re not quite sure how to get there. If you have your sights set on getting into management, these things can help make the transition easier.
#1: Ask Yourself Why
First, do a gut check to make sure that management is really where you want to be. The workforce needs managers who want the job because they like working with people, believe they can make the company better, and care about their team. It’s a hard job and comes with a lot of challenges that non-managers don’t have to face. If you end up becoming a manager but not enjoying the job, it can be a pretty uncomfortable conversation to have with your boss.
#2: Volunteer for Assignments
There are two types of assignments that you should take on. First are the jobs that are not fun, but need to get done. Second are assignments that will stretch you out of your comfort zone or have high visibility. Try to volunteer for a balance between these opportunities. Once you have the job, be sure to take it seriously and follow through. If it’s a stretch assignment, be resourceful and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. Taking on both kinds of projects will show leaders that you are reliable and not afraid of a challenge.
#3: Lead a Group
There’s no substitute for having the hands-on experience of influencing people. Look for opportunities to get experience leading others. It could be signing up to run the next committee at work, or volunteering to lead a group at a local non-profit. Hands-on experience will make it much easier to talk about your leadership skills during an interview.
Make the most of your development conversations with your manager. You are your own best advocate, and you shouldn’t wait for management to ask you. Have the conversation with your boss and tell them about your goals. Ask them what areas they’d like you to develop to get there. Being open to the constructive feedback you might receive is essential.
#5: Find a Mentor
Look for a leader outside of your chain of command who can be a mentor. Make the most of the time you have by being prepared with topics and questions. If you build a good relationship, your mentor will be one of your strongest advocates with other leaders. Having an advocate during those closed-door leadership meetings will help accelerate getting into management
#6 Make Friends with HR
Talk to your HR team and see what resources and classes the company has to offer. HR is one of the first departments to know about job openings and can have a lot of influence on the hiring process. Get to know how the hiring process at your company works. Find out if there are rules about how long you need to stay in a position and how to apply internally.
#7: Be Kind
People don’t want to work for jerks. Remember to treat everyone with respect in the workplace and build strong relationships. Being able to disagree with someone and still have a respectful relationship is a skill that every leader should have. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but keep it professional and stay away from the office gossip.
#8: Build Trust
Strong leaders are trustworthy and often spend more time listening to their team than talking. Start laying the groundwork and building a reputation of trustworthiness now. Ask curious questions and follow up. If you have trouble remembering details, write things down and set reminders to check in with people. Trust will go a long way in building strong relationships.
#9: Drink the Kool-Aid
Yep, I said it. If you’re not already, get on-board with the company mission, vision, and values. Leaders want to hire managers who believe in the company and will work to help the company succeed. If you’re struggling here, getting into management at that company may not be the best choice, and it might be time to start updating your resume.
#10: Prepare for the Interview
Remember to interview for the position you want, not the job that you have been doing. If you’re serious about getting into management, interview like a manager. Get familiar with the company is looking for in a leader and preparing stories showcasing your experience in that light. If you’re looking for help practicing your interview skills, I’d be happy to help.