How to develop your career in management

By Robert Half on 22nd August 2018

Developing your management skills

Many people will begin their working life at entry-level, with a hierarchy of staff, line managers and departmental bosses above them, which can sometimes seem like a never-ending mountain to climb.

Rather than thinking about how it would feel to be a manager, some people would rather sail along in their career and not be the ones to make decisions, but for those who long to have more control and say in how the company is run, management is the only option.

Moving into a managerial role

Working your way up the career ladder is a process that is fraught with challenges, yet it is still a key aim for the majority of job hopefuls; something backed up by a recent study from London University's Institute of Education, which revealed that more than 80 per cent of young people are hoping to move into professional or managerial jobs during their career.

However, what many do not realise is that many sacrifices have to be made along the journey, with ways of working, flexibility and even working relationships all being affected in some way.

The first thing to consider is that you cannot continue to do the job you started off doing at the company, regardless of how much you enjoy it.

Management is less about conducting the tasks and more about organising people to conduct them effectively, and so you will have to take a step back from "getting your hands dirty" and being on the frontline, even if it was one of the more enjoyable parts of the job.

Leadership skills

Though it is extremely difficult to alter your personality, being an effective manager requires a host of attributes that are vital to success, and so you must strive to add them to your list of traits.

The most important of these traits is leadership skills, which will be called on each and every day in some capacity and must be honed and developed as the number of employees you manage and your overall responsibilities increase in volume and importance.

However, you first need to demonstrate to the powers-that-be that you are capable of filling a managerial role, and this means helping colleagues, taking responsibility for tasks and generally showing a willingness to go above and beyond what your fellow staff do.

Being able to use these qualities to the advantage of not only yourself but your colleagues will be recognised by superiors and identified as a key leadership trait - something that will then do your case to be a manager the world of good.

As a recent study by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) found that only seven per cent of organisations with vacancies have one or more management roles that need filling, the need to be in prime position becomes even more important.

Many companies report that management vacancies were hard to fill due to skills shortages, and so honing these is essential to position yourself for success.

Developing your career in management

Although some people may land a management job and then think the hard work is done, the savvy ones will be aware that there are several management structures in a company, and that they have only taken the first step.

While the chief executive or managing director role are obviously the pinnacle, there are plenty of lower-down but no less important roles that can be filled, from department heads to deputy director jobs.

The time will eventually come when a senior management position is created, either through company or department expansion, or through the role being vacated, and this will represent the biggest step yet on the career ladder.

As such, the people likely to be picked are those who exhibit qualities and skills beyond those that are learned vocationally, and this is where the best managers can show that they truly have what it takes to succeed.

In its UK-wide study, UKCES found that 166,000 managers across the country are deemed to be not fully proficient in their job, with the most common complaints being a lack of skills or strategic management, closely followed by absence of planning and organisation, team working, problem solving and oral communication.

Furthermore, a third of establishments provided no training for their managers whatsoever last year, meaning that undertaking extra-curricular qualifications - whether through a leadership course, night classes, or moonlighting in a different role - is perhaps the best way to bolster your CV and give you the edge over the competition.

Learn from your management experiences

Learning from your mistakes is an important lesson in life, and particularly in the world of work, where it can have a major effect on career development.

The best managers will realise that acquiring and utilising leadership skills is a trial and error process, and be aware that not every approach will be successful from the start.

Very few people will start their working life in a managerial role, and so there are likely to be times when some methods are outdated, unsuitable or plain ineffective.

The key is to learn from this and avoid making the same mistake twice; instead, learn not to take these misjudgements to heart, and view them as learning experiences that will position you more solidly for testing times ahead.

If you think you have what it takes to be a manager, then you need to be prepared to take criticism on the chin, be constructive in your assessments and continually ensure that you and your staff are learning, for the benefit of both the company and yourself.

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