Posted September 02, 2014 by

You Can Groom Yourself for Management

Successful professional wearing black suit and smiling

Successful professional wearing black suit and smiling. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Going from the rank-and-file of regular employment on to a management position is an exciting prospect, and doing so opens up major opportunities in terms of salary and your future career. If the company you work for isn’t ready to groom you for management, why not take the initiative yourself? Here are some steps to get you started:

Get Educated

The problem these days is that most companies are far too budget-conscious to actually send their own employees off to management seminars. Instead, the responsibility rests firmly on your own shoulders if you are keen on assuming management responsibilities.

Getting educated begins by taking courses or – at minimum – reading up on management. Amazon.com’s ‘Management and Leadership’ category features a best-seller list that is literally updated hourly, so it’s not difficult to figure out what is currently trending. Read the reviews to get an idea of which books are going to be most worth your time.

But that’s only part of the equation. It is also wise to enrol yourself in a management course. Many professionals incorrectly assume that you have to join these courses as part of a group. If their company is not prepared to send you and a few colleagues off for training, they assume there is nothing to do about it. The advantage of booking with a group is that you can set the terms of the seminar – determining its content, length and dates. However, many corporate trainers also offer open programs that anyone can join, so long as they are free on those particular dates.

Find a Mentor

This can seem like a more daunting task, since you have to find a person at a higher pay grade than you who is actually willing to invest their time in your career. However, as this Forbes article points out, finding a mentor may not be as difficult as you assume.

The secret is to expand your search to include organisations, clubs and other groups outside your place of employment. The article lists the following as possible places to find a mentor:

  • Non-profit organisations
  • University
  • Church groups
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Business associations
  • Family

The dynamics are decidedly different when you look outside of standard professional circles for a mentor. Of course, you don’t want to just settle for any person you can find. Ideally, your mentor should be an established manager themselves, with plenty of experience to draw upon and insight to offer.

Once you have short-listed a potential candidate or two, ask to meet them for lunch or coffee so that you can explain your goals to them. You may find that they are more than happy to help you get ready for a management position.

Look for Leadership Opportunities

Once you have started doing your research and attached yourself to a more experienced manager who can offer insight and advice, the next step is to start looking for leadership opportunities.

Start with your employer. Schedule an appointment with your manager and let them know that you are keenly interested in taking on more responsibility. It’s rare for an employee to ask for the opportunity to work harder, and they’ll probably have an idea that you’re looking to advance your career track. However, as long as your aspirations don’t threaten your manager’s immediate position, they’ll probably have no problem with this.

In the short term, this may amount to doing more work in the office without a pay rise. Just be mindful of the fact that this is a direct investment upon your future career. The following are a few examples of how you can start taking on leadership-style responsibilities:

  • Head up a project
  • Lead a small team
  • Compile monthly or annual reports
  • Assist in delegating responsibilities

Just remember that the way you comport yourself at this stage has a strong bearing on your future prospects. Never gloat over those employees who have not chosen this path for themselves. Instead, be thoughtful, humble and perpetually open to feedback.

Landing that Management Position

When you take it upon yourself to prepare for a management position, you enjoy the added luxury of not being in your company’s debt. You did it on your own, after all. With that in mind, when you think you’re ready for the real thing, you have the option of looking outside the company as well. Just be sure to research any prospective new employers before applying.

About the author

Nicole Abrahams is writing on a freelance basis for Career Savvy, an online resource by eRecruit Solutions that was created to cater to the needs of job applicants in need of helpful advice.

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