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Moving into Management

Making the move into management usually involves getting to grips with new duties and responsibilities, and may mean you have to learn an entirely new skill set. It’s not just more of the same work for more money. It’s important to prepare yourself before you take this step and be willing to adapt and learn new skills.

In this article, we look at how management roles differ from non-management jobs, how to present yourself as management material and some of the common pitfalls.

What’s the difference?

Becoming a manager means moving from a role where you are responsible only for your own work to one where you are also responsible for a team, and can require a big shift in attitude and focus.

You will need to be able to balance your own work with paying attention to both your team’s performance and the productivity and wellbeing of individual team members. When you become part of the chain of management, you will also be responsible for implementing new policies and decisions, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. You have to be able to balance loyalty to the company with loyalty to your team and be firm and fair in your handling of any conflicts.

What will your duties and responsibilities be like?

As a manager, you have three main areas of responsibility:

  • You need to ensure that your team’s aims are clear and that you meet those targets.

  • You need to manage the team as a whole – making sure all individuals work together and identifying any skill gaps for which you’d need to train or recruit.

  • You need to assess, motivate and discipline individual team members – rewarding good work and finding solutions if they underperform.

Brush up your soft skills

Many of the skills required for management are referred to as ‘soft’ skills. Rather than technical skills and knowledge, these are personal qualities and attributes, such as flexibility, the ability to communicate effectively, decisiveness or creativity. Like any skill, they can be learned but the process can be more difficult than acquiring technical skills.

First you need to assess which areas you need to hone – it can be worth asking your manager for their opinion on this. Find out what your organisation can provide in terms of training or if they are willing to send you on a course. Asking a senior colleague to mentor you can be a fantastic way to gain insight into how to use soft skills effectively.

In your interactions with your colleagues, make sure you are constantly improving your soft skills by taking time to really listen, communicate and solve problems.

Discover your goals

One of the primary duties of a manager is to make sure everyone in their team understands the goals of both their team and the organisation as a whole. You need to make sure you fully understand both the immediate and long term priorities for your organisation, and you need to be able to communicate these clearly to others.

Drawing a line

If you are promoted internally, making the transition from colleague to manager can be tricky. Whereas previously you might have been ‘one of the gang’, now you have to toe the party line, deliver bad news and make difficult decisions. You need to start as you go on by making sure your team are clear about your position and responsibilities. You’ll then need to set out your boundaries and stick to them.

Learn to delegate

Delegation is key to making a successful transition to manager, but it can be difficult to learn to let go. You may well be able to do certain tasks better than anyone else in the team, but now you need to hand them over to other team members, while helping them to learn and develop. Effective delegating is about using your experience to guide others by specifying what you want them to achieve, but allowing them to decide how they do it.

Managing problems with discipline

This can be one of the hardest things to do as a new manager but discipline problems do happen and need to be addressed. This is the most common process for handling these problems:

Make sure you address the situation as quickly as possible, but when you are in a calm state of mind
Always talk to the team member one to one and in private Give specific evidence or examples of how their behaviour falls short and tell them what standards you expect

  •  Listen to the team member and ask probing questions to discover the real reasons for their behaviour

  • Discuss various ways in which the situation could be handled with them

  • Agree a (realistic) plan of action and a timescale in which to review it

Ask for help

If you feel out of your depth in a situation, don’t try and handle it without backup but talk to your own line manager. They should be able to give you support and advice, using the benefit of their own experience. No-one will be expecting you to handle all issues on your own, and it’s important to keep your own manager aware of the issues you are facing in case of escalation.

So how do you get promoted?

Once you feel you are ready for a move to management, it’s worth going to speak with your line manager or another senior colleague to make sure they are aware that’s what you want. You might have to have an internal interview to prove you are ready for promotion.

One of the questions TPP are often asked is how to make the move to management when you change roles. Remember, employers are not necessarily looking for previous management experience, just that you can prove you have the necessary skills. Think about all the soft skills a role would require, and make sure you can provide examples of how you demonstrated these qualities. Don’t forget to include any instances of looking after team assistants, temporary staff, interns or volunteers, as these all count as management experience.

If you are looking to make your next move up the career ladder, why not contact us on 020 7198 6000 or to get some advice on your best next move.