Although management is a coveted position by many, it’s a job not everyone can do. It requires years of experience, hours of overtime, excellent business skills and the ability to communicate effectively with both your team and your superiors. Once again, it’s not a job for just anybody.
However, if you believe you have what it takes, there’s no reason for you not to go for the job. But before you put your hand up for the ultimate promotion, you should make sure you tick certain boxes. So, here are six ways to prepare yourself for a management position.
1. Admin skills
You may think you only need admin skills when you’re working an entry-level job, but that’s certainly not the case. In fact, you probably need better admin skills than in any other position. Instead of simply doing your own administrative work, you have to make sure your whole team is doing theirs. You need to do regular checks, respond to emails timeously and ensure nothing has been missed in all the chaos of a hectic work day.
Admin is an important part of any manager’s job, so you need to make sure you have it down before you apply for the position. You don’t have to be born with the ability to do admin work with ease, you can teach yourself through practice and setting yourself strict goals in terms of what needs to be done and when.
2. Report writing skills
One of your biggest responsibilities as a manager will be writing regular reports. These aren’t necessarily related to clients or customers. These reports are more often sent to your superiors to explain what your team has been up to. What work have they done? How many new clients have they acquired or how many billable hours have they worked? The big bosses will want proof that your department is generating a profit and therefore remains beneficial to the business as a whole.
Just like admin skills, report writing skills can be learned. If you’re applying for the position because your current manager is leaving, ask them to train you in report writing. You may want to do things in a different way and that’s okay but your superiors will be used to a certain format and you should stick to that.
3. Attention to detail
This cannot be overstated. You need to pay attention to detail at all times if you want to be a manager. If you miss one thing, you could cause the company damage and even lose your position. The job entails making sure everything your department does is done correctly, by the set deadline and following the right procedures. You are the one who needs to approve the work done by your team, so you are to blame if any errors make it through. It’s not likely anyone is checking your work.
From every email you send or presentation you give to every task you hand out, you have to pay special attention to detail. If you don’t, you could receive a warning, get demoted or even be retrenched. It all rests on your shoulders.
4. You need to understand boundaries
You can’t be your team’s best friend. You can care about them. You can like them. You can be empathetic when they’re going through tough times. But you have to be their boss first and foremost. You have to be able to point out issues with their work or reprimand them when they’re slacking off. They need to respect you or they’ll walk all over you and take advantage.
The moment you become a manager, you have to make sure they know you won’t let them get away with laziness, distractions or continuous mistakes. At the end of the day, they have to report to you and you have to report to your superiors. If you don’t set up boundaries, your team won’t see you as their boss.
5. Know when to protect your team
You know your team far better than your superiors do. You know how hard they work and how much time they put in. You know if they’ve been doing their best to make sales or meet deadlines. You know what they can and can’t achieve. Your superiors may not. They may see what your team has achieved when they’ve been working overtime and think they can do that all the time. You need to protect them from this. There will be times when you need to explain to your bosses that their expectations are unrealistic.
6. Delegation is key
You can’t do everything yourself. As a manager, you’ll have far more work than you’ve ever had before. You need to learn to hand some of it over to the team members you can trust. You have to focus on the bigger picture, so let other people handle the small things.
Being a manager isn’t easy but if you work hard at developing the above skills, you’ll be management material in no time. Management can be a very rewarding career, so if you think you have what it takes, then go for it!