A managerial position allows people to grow professionally, and push them to use the knowledge and skills they’ve developed in new ways. Yet making the jump can be intimidating, and it can be a confusing process.
Our Everwise community offered their insights for individual contributors considering a management role:
Self-reflection is key before making any decisions. “Consider evaluating yourself, your personality, your style, to determine what really makes you happy and fuels your personal drive,” says David Vedder, “This will determine what kind of career adjustments are most appropriate.” Making a career change should come from an understanding of your own needs rather than chasing after greener pastures. Do you want to lead your team, or are you more interesting in switching departments or organizations?
Jório Mesquita offers coaching as a helpful option for guided self-reflection “Many companies help and give equal privileges in terms of salaries and benefits to any side of ‘Y’ career path. But I would ask this person where she sees herself in five, ten years or more.”
Acknowledging your strengths is also key in identifying where you’d like to go next. “Take stock in yourself and acknowledge the path in which you have already traveled,” offers Don Polley, “My advice would be not to limit yourself as to what you truly believe you can achieve and set about proving to the naysayers that you can accomplish what you say you can do.” During your period of self-evaluation, take time to identify what you want, even if it is ambitious—it is your time to brainstorm and explore options.
Develop Relevant Skills
Jennifer Weldy advocates an approach based on skills. “Think about what skills you need to gain [before] moving into a managerial, process oriented role,” she says, then you can set a plan to acquire them. This might come in the form of formal development programs, on-the-job learning, and more. Managers need a strong set of interpersonal skills to be successful. To get a better understanding of what they are, do your research and connect with other managers to get their take.
Don’t forget about your own manager. “Have a conversation with your current manager about career goals, and come prepared with ideas about what you are going to do,” adds Weldy. “You’ll want to know in advance what to ask for, maybe the OK to attend that training session or maybe an opportunity to do a project that requires more leading than doing.” Your manager can help advocate for the resources you will find helpful, so be sure to think through the support you need.
Have Transparent Conversations
Clear, transparent communication is a must. Daniela Chiricioaia suggests clarifying the transition’s expectations for both parties.
Individual contributors have an entire workload that will shift once they move into a managerial role. Ms. Chiriciocia notes, “You need to have a well-prepared successor, a colleague who will take the technical responsibilities that you are doing now.” While transferring knowledge does require work, it’s worth the upfront investment to minimize future back-and-forths.
These career planning conversations will serve best if they take place on a regular basis. Make sure you’re checking in with your superior about your progress and the preparations for your transition.
Plan Your Project
Indu K recommends a well-organized strategy. “Like anything else in business, tackle this as a project – define your timelines, the resources and milestones. Then get to work, revisit and adapt the plan as situation evolves.” Being organized and clear in your approach will help you to track your progress, stay accountable, and tackle obstacles which arise.
“Your team, manager, department and you – these are your resources for this project,” she adds. “Do an honest evaluation of the support and trust levels with you manager and team. If these are not suitable for your growth then change departments or teams, before working on the promotion.” It is important to know what assets you have, and if support is lacking, how to reposition yourself for the best chance of success.
New Opportunities and Resources
In some cases, the key to your transition may lie in exploring new options outside of your current track. One can get a higher degree or move into a new function entirely. Networking across your organization can help you uncover new possibilities for advancement and get a sense of the associated requirements.
It is well worthwhile to cast a wide net and research different opportunities. Even if you don’t land the position, you’ll learn about the skills and requirements for the level you’ve got your eye on.
If you’ve got more time in your plan, educational opportunities also present an excellent option. Higher levels of education can increase your skills, while giving offering a broader perspective. Yess Padilla shares her story: “What I did was to explore the fields in which I would like to [do] more (management, sales, operations, entrepreneurship) and after figuring it out, I started to look for master degree opportunities that could help me move in that direction. In my case the best option was to travel abroad to study and learn not only about new skills, but new cultures as well.”
Going after a global degree or studying in another country can open up a fantastic field of opportunity for those looking to move up in their career. If this multinational perspective appeals to you, there are many reputable programs available to move in that direction.
- Take time for an honest self-evaluation and think about your personal goals, desires, and needs
- Research what skills you need to gain and establish a method to acquire them
- Put together an overall project plan for your transition
- Have transparent conversations with your superiors about your plan
- Explore external options such as a higher degree, new field, or shifting organizations