How to Work Your Way Up to Management
You’re sharp, you work hard, and you feel ready to assume more responsibility–to be the boss. But how do you get yourself into a management position? What really moves people from cube farms into corner offices?
From dressing the part to being smart about how you broach the topic with your supervisor, here is a list of must-dos and expert tips for aspiring managers.
Be a people person
Experts agree that you need solid people skills to get noticed for a management role. “If people at work don’t like you, no matter how skilled you are, you will never get to a management level,” says Alexandra Levit, the author of “New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career.”
“Be able to understand and monitor how you impact others,” says Julie Jansen, the author of “I Don’t Know What I Want, but I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work.”
Dress the part
A major challenge when transitioning into management is getting your current coworkers to imagine you in a new role. One way to change their view of you is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, according to Nicole Williams, career advisor and the author of “Girl on Top.” “If you’re someone who dresses fairly casually, wear a suit. Show that you’re taking on a larger role,” she says.
Show that you’re ready
Do you want a bigger leadership role? Before you ask for more responsibility, start demonstrating that you can handle it. “Do your work faster and more completely than the original project description,” says Williams. “It’s your actions that demonstrate your ability to manage.”
Focus on the company’s success
When you finally do have a conversation about moving up the chain, don’t make it about you and your career. Make it about the long-term success of the company. Williams suggests that you explain how you want the company to succeed and how you’d like to play a role in that success.
Make your promotion a win-win
In this market, opportunities to move into management are sometimes limited by current managers hanging onto their jobs for dear life. Jansen suggests using your next review with your boss to create a six-month plan for expanding your current responsibilities. You’ll come off as less threatening this way.
Williams adds that your current manager may also be looking to move up the chain at work–and may be lacking a qualified replacement. Your interest in management could be a win-win for both of you.
How do managers at your company behave? How do they communicate? Bob Selden, the author of “What to Do When You Become the Boss: How New Managers Become Successful Managers,” recommends that you develop a profile of what a successful manager looks like in your organization.
Selden says to write down the positive qualities of each manager you admire and then look for the qualities that are similar between them.
It’s time to rub elbows with the right people and get their support for your move to management. “Learn to be politically savvy and nurture stakeholders at your company,” says Jansen. She adds that you should network at all levels of your company’s hierarchy, not just with people in positions above yours.
Selden also suggests finding a mentor and asking your HR leaders for advice on transitioning into management. “Your network should include people from both inside and outside the organization who can help you with your career development,” he says.