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How to Become a Manager in 12 Steps

Taking the step from Team Leader to Manger is one of the most difficult stages in the business world. How do you get that promotion? How do you build the experience to show on your resume? Follow these steps to set yourself on the path to your first management role.

Manager coaching a Team Leader

Transitioning from a Senior Team Member, Team Leader, or Subject Matter Expert (SME) to a managerial role is a pivotal moment in your career. It's a step that demands a shift in mindset, new skillsets, and the ability to lead and inspire others. In this article, we'll provide you with a practical guide on how to navigate this transition successfully, ensuring a smooth progression from your current role to a leadership position. Here are 12 Key Steps to becoming a manager. Learn the steps and follow the example of Team Leader Jessica as she puts these steps into action.

Introducing Jessica

Jessica is a standout Team Leader in her organization. She's been consistently knocking it out of the park, effectively guiding her team to success. However, despite her exceptional performance, she's facing a roadblock. Jessica has her sights set on stepping up into a management position, where she can make a larger impact and advance her career.

She has her goal, but has identified she needs to do two key things to improve her standing and boost her resume:

  1. Jessica recognizes that leading a team is very different than managing a team. She needs new skills and knowledge.

  2. She also knows that she needs to demonstrate these new skills and display to her superiors that she has what it takes or do display to new businesses on her resume and in interviews, that she is able to successfully manage.

Step 1: Recognize the Shift

Understand that becoming a manager involves more than technical expertise. It's about people management, communication, and strategic thinking. Acknowledge that your responsibilities will extend beyond your individual tasks and will encompass guiding and empowering your team.

Tip: Engage in conversations with current managers in your organization to gain insights into their roles and responsibilities. Most managers will be happy to explain their decisions and thought processes. Learn what they look at and what they must consider when making those decisions.

Jessica knew that the transition from a Team Leader to a Manager demanded more than technical skills. Attending a specialized workshop, "Leadership Essentials for Aspiring Managers," she gained valuable insights into the mindset shift required. Embracing the concept of leading rather than simply supervising, Jessica was ready to evolve.

Step 2: Develop Soft Skills

Soft skills are at the heart of effective management. Cultivate skills like communication, active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. These skills will enable you to connect with your team and create a positive work environment.

Tip: Build your skills in communication and conflict resolution to enhance your ability to convey ideas clearly and navigate challenging conversations. There are a number of resources to aid you in this, from professional courses, to speaking with senior managers about techniques they use.

Tip: Practice active listening by regularly having one-on-one sessions with your team members, making them feel heard and valued. After these sessions, make extensive notes and generate to-do lists based on what was discussed. This will help you follow through and show you are listening and will translate into real improvement for the team.

Eager to enhance her leadership skills, Jessica enrolled in a communication course. Through the course, she learned the nuances of active listening and providing constructive feedback. Armed with these skills, Jessica began applying them during team meetings and one-on-one conversations, creating an atmosphere of open communication and mutual respect.

Step 3: Expand Your Perspective

Managers need to see the bigger picture. Familiarize yourself with your company's goals, objectives, and industry trends. This broader perspective will help you make decisions that align with organizational strategies.

Tip: Participate in company-wide strategy meetings or town halls to grasp the larger organizational goals and how your team's efforts fit into the broader picture. It is important to put yourself forward and be seen to be engaging in these events. Focus on productive contributions and clear questions.

Tip: Stay updated with industry trends and competitors by subscribing to industry newsletters, attending conferences, or joining relevant online communities. Becoming an industry expert is key in all areas of your career. The world is highly competitive so you need to make yourself a centre of knowledge. Become the “go to” person on as many topics as you can.

Attending the "Annual Leadership and Innovation Summit," Jessica broadened her perspective beyond her immediate team. Engaging with professionals from various industries, she gained a deeper understanding of industry trends and challenges. This insight empowered her to align her team's goals with the bigger picture of her organization's mission.

Step 4: Take on Leadership Opportunities

Begin showcasing your leadership potential before the official transition. Volunteer for projects, lead cross-functional teams, and mentor junior colleagues. This hands-on experience will build your confidence and demonstrate your leadership abilities.

Tip: Volunteer to lead projects and initiatives, showcasing your ability to manage diverse teams and collaborate effectively. Put your hand up for even small projects and tasks. This puts you forward and gives you face time with decision makers as well as a platform to show your new found skills and knowledge.

Tip: Mentor a junior colleague, providing guidance and demonstrating your commitment to helping others grow. Show yourself to not only be an expert and a professional, but also someone who is invested in passing on those skills.

Recognizing her readiness to take on more responsibility, Jessica volunteered to lead a cross-functional project. Guiding team members from different departments, she coordinated tasks, set deadlines, and fostered collaboration. Her adept management of the project highlighted her leadership skills to both her team and her superiors.

Step 5: Seek Mentorship

Identify experienced managers in your organization or network who can guide you. Their insights and advice can be invaluable as you navigate the challenges of your new role. Learn from their experiences and apply them to your journey.

Tip: Approach a senior manager you respect and request periodic mentorship sessions to discuss challenges, strategies, and lessons learned. This could be someone internal but also external to your company. Gaining outside insight is utterly invaluable as is having someone to run ideas by and to seek advice from.

Tip: Look for industry associations or networking groups that offer mentorship programs connecting emerging managers with experienced leaders. Focus on those groups with active discussions. Find people who are as ambitious as yourself and build a peer group to help educate and support each other.

Jessica sought guidance from Sarah, a senior manager who had successfully made the same transition. Through mentorship sessions, Sarah shared her experiences, providing valuable advice on overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities. Sarah's insights became a compass for Jessica's journey.

Step 6: Understand People Management

Shifting to a managerial role means working closely with your team. Learn about their strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Tailor your management approach to help them thrive and grow.

Tip: Conduct one-on-one meetings with your team members to understand their career aspirations and provide tailored development plans. A managers role is not to perform, a managers role is to help their team perform. Find out what your team need, what problems they face and start addressing them. Show your superiors your focus is on the teams performance, not just your own.

Hosting individual career conversations with her team members, Jessica delved into their aspirations and goals. Armed with this knowledge, she crafted personalized development plans, demonstrating her commitment to their growth and building stronger bonds within her team.

Step 7: Learn Delegation and Time Management

Effective managers delegate tasks to empower their teams and focus on strategic decisions. Practice delegation while also refining your time management skills to balance your own responsibilities.

Tip: Identify tasks that could be delegated to team members based on their strengths and interests, gradually entrusting them with more responsibility. The goal of any manger is to create a team where they are able to complete assigned work without constant supervision. Once this occurs, you then focus your time on forward planning and building the next phase.

Tip: Use time management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique to enhance focus and productivity, leading by example for your team. Again, learning management techniques and philosophies such as Lean and ProCore are utterly invaluable.

Jessica identified a task within her projects that she could delegate to a capable team member. Entrusting them with the responsibility while providing guidance and support, she managed to balance her responsibilities effectively, setting an example for her team to follow.

Step 8: Embrace Constructive Feedback

Be open to feedback from peers, team members, and supervisors. Use their input to fine-tune your management style and address any blind spots you might have.

Tip: Regularly solicit feedback from your team on your management style, communication, and support to identify areas for improvement. This works both up and down. Seek this same feedback from your mentor and your senior management. Ask their advice on any areas of improvement and return with them with the results. Make yourself the topic of conversation.

Tip: When receiving feedback, focus on listening and understanding the perspective before responding or taking action.

Jessica organized a feedback roundtable with her team, inviting them to share their thoughts on her management style. This open dialogue created an environment where team members felt heard and valued. Jessica implemented their suggestions, showcasing her adaptability and dedication to continuous improvement.

Step 9: Lead with Transparency

Be transparent about your vision, expectations, and decisions with your team. Transparency fosters trust and encourages open communication, which is essential for a successful management transition.

Tip: Schedule regular team meetings where you openly discuss progress, challenges, and decisions, fostering a culture of transparency. Always provide a reason for what you are doing. This goes a long way to helping your team understand, but also shows your superiors how you respond to changes and information. This can be an excellent example setting process.

During a pivotal team meeting, Jessica shared the decision-making process behind a recent choice. By explaining the factors that influenced the decision, she promoted transparency and encouraged open discussions, fostering a culture of trust within her team.

Step 10: Continuously Educate Yourself

The learning journey doesn't stop after you become a manager. Invest in leadership and management training, attend workshops, and read relevant books or articles to stay up-to-date with best practices.

Tip: Find the best form of education for you. Some people require the dedicated study of university and professional courses, others absorb information from practical focused sources like Core Skill. Either way, build your skillset and make sure it is included in your resume. You can even use it as a conversation start with your manger. “I have been reading up on LEAN. Is there a reason you find it so effective?” This highlights your knowledge and shows your active study.

Jessica subscribed to an online learning platform, dedicating time each week to leadership and management programs with a high focus on the practical elements and rapid skill development. Applying her newfound knowledge to her role, she not only enhanced her skills but also demonstrated her commitment to personal growth.

Step 11: Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Define clear goals for your team and communicate them effectively. Set expectations for performance, deadlines, and deliverables. Clarity ensures everyone is on the same page.

Tip: Initiate a team meeting to collaboratively set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals, ensuring alignment and clarity. Use these in your own 1:1’s with your senior manager to highlight areas you want to focus on and how you will be proceeding. Or, when interviewing use these as examples of how you manage and find areas of improvement.

Tip: Create a shared document outlining project timelines and individual responsibilities to prevent misunderstandings. Set your timelines and hold to them.

Organizing a collaborative goal-setting workshop, Jessica led her team in defining SMART goals for a critical project. Through open discussion, she ensured everyone was aligned and clear on their responsibilities, showcasing her leadership and organizational abilities.

Step 12: Lead by Example

Demonstrate the qualities you want to see in your team. Whether it's dedication, collaboration, or a positive attitude, your actions will inspire your team to follow suit.

Tip: Show dedication by arriving early, staying focused during meetings, and putting in extra effort during busy periods. Management comes with higher pay and more perks, but also comes with the responsibility to set the example.

Amid a challenging project, Jessica actively participated alongside her team. By sharing the workload, problem-solving, and demonstrating unwavering dedication, she exemplified the qualities she wished to see in her future team members.

Transitioning from a Senior Team Member, Team Leader, or SME to a manager requires practical steps that focus on both soft skills and strategic thinking. By combining hands-on experience, continuous learning, effective communication, and a people-centric approach, you can confidently navigate this transition and lead your team to success. Remember, it's a journey of growth and adaptation that will shape your managerial skills for years to come. Core Professional Solutions are experts at working with Team Leaders and ambituious professionals to take that next step both within a company and moving on to greater oportunites. Feel free to take advantage of our free coaching services at any time.

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