I remember telling a news director I once worked for that I would never want his job. But years later, I not only became a news director, then program director, and then a general manager. Not all people are successful in planning their career path. I always say had I known what the future would have held, I might have taken more classes in business or read more about the role of a manager.
As I eventually saw my career move into management, I began asking more questions about the way our organization did things. I tried to learn as much as I could so that when the time came that I was sitting in the top job, I would be better prepared.
Some of the things I recommend to individuals who are thinking about a move into management are:
- Ask questions about the way things are done.
- Gain the respect of managers above you.
- Show interest in projects that may not be directly in your department.
- Look for efficiencies
- Take on other projects.
Once you become a new manager:
- Take time to understand what your employees do and what motivates them.
- Listen more than you talk. Become an active listener
- Describe your department as ‘ours,’ not ‘mine.’
- Develop good time management skills. It is very easy to devote lots of time to issues and projects that are not key to the organization’s mission but may be more manageable.
- Begin to see how best to motivate people.
- Don’t sit in your office. Instead, you want to be visible and active.
- Don’t take all the credit for what your team does. Share credit. Take blame.
- Recognize the good work of your team publicly.
- Critique privately, never in front of others.
- Learn to delegate and fully explain the outcome you expect.
- When you are presented with a problem, research all sides of this issue.
- When you make a decision, stick with it unless you get new information.
- Develop your vision for the organization and the team you lead.
- Show initiative. Don’t wait for problems and issues to find you.
- Build your network of other successful managers. This can be inside your organization but also others in your industry.
Future posts will address some of these issues in-depth.
But I want to call special attention to learning how to delegate. I once knew an executive who only delegated projects that he was not interested in. He kept high-profile and so-called ‘fun’ projects for himself. Not only did the team begin to resent this, but the manager also missed an excellent opportunity to train his staff to deal with more complex issues.
All of these tips will help you be as prepared for your new role as you can be. Let me know if you have others to add to this list.