How to get into management
Do you have what it takes to become a manager? “There’s a fallacy in business that good workers always get promoted up to management, and this just isn’t the case,” says Robert Balcerzak, a management consultant and area chair of the MBA program at the University of Phoenix Indianapolis Campus. “You have to seek those opportunities out yourself.”
Here, he and other experts share their tips on how to make the leap from cubicle to corner office:
“The first thing anyone who wants to become a manager should do is let it be known that you want to manage,” Balcerzak advises.
Watch your image.
Managers lead not just with their work, but also their behavior, he says. “Good managers are respected because they project the image of leadership, and they do it consistently,” he points out. That means dressing and acting the part — even before you have it.
Michael Lee, a banking manager and area chair for the MBA program at the Idaho Campus, agrees. “What will get you ahead is building trust,” he notes. “Your behavior needs to be ethical, your relationships reliable and your communication unambiguous.”
Meanwhile, Diane Deaton, a human resource manager and area chair at the Kansas City Campus, recommends that aspiring managers be positive, flexible and respectful of their co-workers at all times. “Don’t be a complainer,” she says.
Demonstrate your leadership skills.
This is one way to fast-track into a management position, according to Deaton. She recommends that employees volunteer to do everything from leading staff meetings to taking on tough projects. “Find something that needs to be fixed and figure out [how] to fix it,” she suggests.
Balcerzak concurs. “Seek out the problems nobody else wants to deal with and solve them, instead of just saying, ‘It’s not my job,’” he says.
Look for additional training.
Although many managers learn on the job, Balcerzak believes they should still seek additional education whenever possible.
“Take advantage of any management training opportunities your company offers, and attend leadership seminars,” he encourages. “If you want to become an executive, you’ll need an MBA.”
Understand your strengths.
Not a people person? Don’t fret — there are many types of managers, according to Lee.
“Depending on your area of expertise, the management track you follow depends on whether you manage people, resources or processes,” he explains. For example, those who administer large department budgets or do strategic planning can still be managers, even if no staff members report directly to them.
Develop a vision.
“What sets managers apart from the rank and file is the ability to think ahead,” Balcerzak asserts. “Rather than making snap decisions, they think critically about how solutions will impact multiple stakeholders.”
Good managers also know how to take direction from their employees, Deaton notes. “Being a manager isn’t just being the boss,” she says. “Ask [people] what they think, and really listen to their answers.”