They say it's tough at the top, and lonely too. As a manager you will find an invisible barrier between you and your staff, no matter how friendly you are.
That said, in the right context and atmosphere, managers and staff can work together very productively and enjoyably.
Why you might want to become a manager
There is obviously a financial reward for becoming a manager, but there are sacrifices too. More responsibility and more work, more headaches even, are not for everyone.
Perhaps you want more responsibility, or want to show that you can do things better. You may simply like leading, guiding and cajoling people.
Before you commit yourself to becoming a manager, you need to realise that there are many aspects of management which are not so pleasant. For example, taking disciplinary action against someone who is not putting in the required effort or having to tell someone that they have been made redundant.
You may occasionally have to bite the bullet and take personal responsibility for failures within your department or team. Sometimes it can simply be frustration that things aren't going to plan and you have to think of an answer.
Needless to say, being a manager is about more than sitting in a big office and giving orders. If you're still keen, and you have the right mindset you can start to prepare.
Preparing for the managerial roles
Just wanting to be a manager is not nearly enough - you need to have managerial aptitude, and you need to be seen to have it
If you aren't seen as an expert in whatever field it is you want to manage within (even if you have the potential) it's unlikely your company will place you in a position of authority.
Part of becoming a manager is making the right connections with people at work who can help you achieve your aims. This sometimes means taking on more work, volunteering for duties and helping existing managers to perform their jobs.
Merely commenting that you could do better, even if you could, is no strategy
Also, the way in which you apply for managerial positions, as well as how you conduct yourself during any interviews, will be part of your route to success.
Of course, you don't have to be an expert to be a manager, other skills are vital too such as learning from experience and being able to draw upon it. Your aim, therefore, is to becoming knowledgeable and experienced in your field.
This will allow you to become effective and efficient and show you control over your work. Being in control also allows you to spend some valuable time developing your weaker points.
Some of the areas you might want to look at are:
- Communication - upwards, downwards and sideways, people need communicating with when you're the boss. You need to make sure that when you have something to say it's unexaggerated and accurate otherwise you'll just be viewed as unreliable. Being able to listen and not talk over someone who has something to say is also part of this skill. Many of the best managers say as little a possible, but listen a great deal.
- Persuasion - from day one you'll need someone to persuade someone to do something you want done. Whether you're trying to convince employees to put in more effort, or convince your board you need more resources for your department you'll have to find a way ..
- Leadership - This isn't always easy to acquire and it's often based upon respect that those around you have. In a nutshell, you have to lead and other people to follow you in the direction you want to go. You'll also have to make the same sacrifices - and often more - than those who follow.
Finding managerial positions
Keep your eyes open for managerial opportunities that excite you, gather as much information about them as possible and if you feel confident, go ahead and apply
They need to be part of a consistent pattern, not random excursions and in line with your experience to date.
Applying, of course, must include a professional cover letter and resume so make sure your CV is up to date and clearly supports your reasons for applying.
Don't forget to keep your contacts alive. Building contacts takes time but your network of contacts are invaluable in your aim to become a manager. These contacts can advise you of positions that may not be advertised - and also recommend you if you are lucky.