Personal character traits
The first step in becoming a manager is to understand your own reasons for becoming a manager and then assess your personality and check that you have the required attributes. You can lean some of them, but for the most, you must have a natural sense and aptitude.
Character traits of a manager:
- Great customer service skills
- Integrity, trustworthiness and dependability
- Being a team player
- Conflict-resolution abilities
- Knowledge of the industry
- The skill to communicate clearly and listen effectively
- Ability to remain calm
- Optimistic attitude
- Leadership skills
The second step in becoming a manager is to obtain the skills, knowledge, qualifications and/or accreditation necessary for the management position you are aiming for. Many employers do not hire job applicants unless they have a diploma from an accredited educational institution.
The purpose of most management programs is to breed future leaders. You cannot interview for a mid- or upper-level position without a good management education behind you and expect that they will take you seriously. On the same note, some companies find it hard to place general management students because the training is too generic. Management courses should be specialised and focused towards a specific field, sector, or function.
There are so many management courses that it can be hard to know which one to pick. It is important to do some research before signing up for any course. One should make sure the course provides the education and type of diploma that you would need.
An increasing number of students study management through distance learning. Students no longer need to interrupt their careers to obtain management qualifications.
Like most other jobs, it is difficult to get that first management job unless you have experience
Here is what you need to know and, more importantly, what you need to do to get that first management job.
- Do your job well
Nobody is going to put you in charge if you cannot do your own job. The first step toward landing a management job is doing a good job at the job you have.
- Do your homework
Find out what managers do. Watch the managers in your organisation and see what they do and how they do it. Read books on management and leadership and learn what to do and what not to do. Ask questions of managers you know.
- Develop people skills
The single most important skill for any manager is the ability to manage people. Learn how people think, react, and function when faced with different outside forces. Develop respect for people, even those different from you. Learn how to work with people and then you can learn how to influence their behaviour. Nobody will promote you to a management position if you cannot manage people.
- Show Initiative
Do not wait for someone to hand you a management job. Demonstrate resourcefulness and creativity. Volunteer to help your boss and colleagues with assignments beyond your job description. Take on whatever you can without negatively affecting your performance of your main job.
Finally, if you want to people to consider you for a management position, ask for it. Do not assume someone will know you want or deserve it. Approach your boss and tell him or her you would like to follow their example and move into management. That way they know you are interested and will keep an eye on you. When they see you can handle smaller things, they will start to delegate larger things, eventually leading to a supervisor or management position.
In larger organisations, the HR department maintains a list of open positions on the company intranet. Smaller companies may just post the list on the bulletin board. Keep an eye on the list. When you hear about an entry-level management-position on the list apply for it.
For many people entrepreneurship is the preferred route to management. This is something you have to plan, train and budget for very carefully as it is very risky, but rewarding to be your own boss.
Continuous Professional Development
Obtaining a management position is not the end of a successful journey – only the beginning of a growth program. In order to stay up to date and improve your skills, you need to work at developing yourself constantly by:
- Developing your skills in management and leadership
- Evaluate your progress with a mentor and ask for their feedback.
- Obtain sources for networking and/or support for you, for example, a network of friends, association, club, etc.
- Manage and customise your own development plan.
You can learn a great deal about management by using a wide variety of informal methods such as workshops, seminars and reading.
For more advice on Management-studies, please subscribe to our newsletters. (n.b.: link to newsletters will be under construction. Thank you.)