Makes sense that you would ask the question: “How can I get a management position when I’ve never been a manager?” Well, you may not be able to list the title of manager on your resume, and yet, there are plenty of ways to develop management experience that will demonstrate you are ready to be a manager, and in the meantime take on more responsibility.
Start by thinking about a manager you have or had that you really liked and make a list of what traits they demonstrated that made them a good leader. Next, think about what a manager does. Oversees projects, their direct reports, interact with their manager, to name a few. Then, think about how you would develop those skills in your current job. Lastly, ask your current manager if they would help you with this goal. If they aren’t willing, look for a mentor that would support you in developing management experience.
Steps to Take on the Job:
- Assess yourself. Examine your abilities and ambitions. Make sure that going into management is really something you want or are you really happy with being an individual contributor. Be honest about your strengths and the areas where you would like to grow.
- Pick a project. There’s probably some project that your manager would be happy to have help with. Make sure it is a project that will stretch you, but not overwhelm you or set you up for failure.
- Crunch numbers. Budgeting and forecasting are part of most manager’s job descriptions. Ask your manager if you can contribute to the budgeting process.
- Help with hiring. Smart companies often think of recruitment as an ongoing activity. Until you have employees to supervise, ask your manager if you can get experience by joining the selection committee or participating in group interviews. That could also lead to a bigger role in training and onboarding new hires.
- Propose solutions. When you have an issue that you are bringing to your manager, instead of just presenting the issue, and waiting on your manager to come up with a solution, think about how you would like to see the issue resolved, and propose that in your next meeting. That is a good skill to develop, and use over the span of your career. When you start managing people, you will appreciate this skill in others as well.
- Look at the big picture. To be a leader, you have to be knowledgeable about the entire company as well as your own area. Start looking at your department, then the larger organization, and see how it fits into the whole picture. See how your job impacts your department, and organizational priorities.
- Be professional. Remember the basics. A manager needs to set an example for being punctual, courteous, appropriate attire.
Steps to Take on Your Own Time:
- Learning. A successful manager is committed to learning. Ask your manager or a mentor for books that they would recommend on being a good leader.
- Take a course. Research what training your company offers or look for online classes in management that would be helpful for your career. You may want to complete short certification program or acquire an additional degree. See if your company offers tuition reimbursement benefits.
- Interview others. Do you have contacts in your network who are doing the kind of management work that interests you or have the skills you appreciate in a manager? Invite them out for coffee or lunch so you can discuss their experiences and advice. Ask for introductions about who else you can talk with. Be sure to thank them and return the favor.
- Volunteer in your community. Volunteering can involve management activities, as well as stuffing envelopes or answering phones. Contact a charity that interests you, and ask about how you can help. Offer to lead a project or if appropriate, be considered for a board position.
Regardless of your current job title, no matter where you are on your career path, if being a manager is on that path, this is how you get there. Developing your management skills now, will broaden your opportunities, increase your job satisfaction and help your manager. You’ll be able to perform your current job more successfully, and explore more challenging positions. Ultimately, moving your career forward on your path to success.
Please reach out if you would like help developing your management skills, happy to help!