How to Become a Manager (even with no past experience)

Whether you are looking to manage people in your next role or it's something you want to add to your career bucket list, here are 5 things to start doing TODAY to prepare you for your future role.

Get clear on the type of role you want.

There's a spectrum of different types of leadership roles within organizations. For the sake of this post, I'll put them in three main buckets.

  • Bucket one:  roles that involve a lot of leadership but have no direct reports (i.e. team lead providing work direction, project manager/lead, etc)
  • Bucket two: roles that expect the person in charge to also do some of the team's work ("working supervisor")
  • Bucket three: roles that require a more hands-off and strategic approach.

Here's something to keep in mind if you're looking at roles within your current company: look at the job itself and not the person currently in the job. A job might look like it falls into bucket two, but the current manager might be taking on more work than they need to be / should be. Or, maybe there's a person in a role in bucket three, who should be more involved with their team than they are. Try and look at the position and the specific job description rather than the person currently in the role.

Clarify your development plan.

Once you know the type of role you're looking to move into, you'll need to clarify your development plan. Make sure you get clarity from your manager on what's expected ofyou in your current role (aka make sure you keep doing your current job well) and get clarity from them on what you can do to grow your skills for management. I recommend coming to the meeting with an outline of what you think so that your manager has something to go off of. Don't go into this meeting saying "I want to manage people. What do you think I should do?" LEADERS come prepared and bring ideas to the table. The time to start demonstrating that is NOW!

If you're planning on taking your promotion outside of your current company, you'll want to identify a mentor (or two) to share this with. Does your newly created development plan line up with development plans in their companies? Ask for feedback along the way!

Grow your "I love change" muscles.

If you have made it this far in your professional career without working on these muscles, I am amazed. When you start to manage others, you will not only need to be able to deal with change yourself but also know how to successfully implement and continue to manage through change! How many people do you work with right now that LOVE change? They LOVE when their cheese gets moved. They LOVE when their boss springs a last minute project on them. Yeah, change is hard. My recommendation for personally learning to better deal with change is to constantly be open to change. Say yes to new projects at work that scare you. Say yes to a presentation in front of senior management. Say yes to pretty much anything at work that's going to shake up your status quo!

For learning to successfully manage through change, I'd recommend learning from some of the pros. Check out any books by John Kotter or James Collins. For more hands on learning, start watching how the managers around you react to change. See if you can spot the pre-change, change, post-change model.

Invest in your education.

Start taking classes! Start with what your company has to offer for leadership development courses. Do they offer courses on management skills? Or will they reimburse you to attend a leadership conference? Your goal is to immerse yourself in all things leadership. You, my friend, are now a sponge. Soak it up.

Write your Manager Manifesto.

What will you stand for as a manager? What type of leader do you seek to be? What would your future direct reports say about your leadership style? What type of leader do you NOT want to be?  Who are some of the best leaders you know? What parts of what they do would you want to replicate? Write it out. Share it with a trusted resource and ask them what they think! For me, it was important for me to manage change as best as possible (try to avoid last minute changes, give the team information in advance, stuff like that) and to demonstrate that work/life balance is important (no sending emails at night, coming in and leaving at normal hours, reminding the team that the work should go home because their families are more important than anything else).

Are you ready for this?! If you need additional ways to prepare yourself for management, check out this free resource on building your personal brand. 

If you're really, really ready for this, you might need someone to help move you forward. Lucky for you, I'm your call! Fill out the form below and let's CHAT! One of my specialities is growing leaders. I want to help you move from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow! 

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