How to Move Into a Management Position

Mary Gormandy White
Preparing for Management

If you want to be considered for a management position, you'll need to make sure that you are an exemplary performer in your current job, as well as take proactive steps to ensure that your behavior and attitude reflect the types of traits that your company seeks in members of its leadership team. Make sure that you have a good reputation among your co-workers and that your work habits and ability to get along and work well with others paint a picture of you being management material.

Management Skills

Every management job involves a combination of technical, human and conceptual skills.

  • Technical - People are often selected as potential management candidates because they have a high degree of technical skill. It only makes sense that companies will seek to promote people who are outstanding performers in their current position. If you are one of the best - or the best - worker in your department, your level of skill may make you stand out to those who make promotion decisions.
  • Human - While being a skilled worker might make you stand out as a prospective supervisor, technical skill alone isn't sufficient to make the transition from worker to manager. You must also exhibit a high level of human - or interpersonal - skill. This involves having strong human communication skills, being a true team player, and exhibiting leadership qualities.
  • Conceptual - Conceptual skill involves being of a strategic mindset, so that you can focus on the big picture. Rather than hyper-focusing on short-term goals and doing what is in your own best interest, you can think and act with long term goals in mind taking into consideration the interests of the organization as a whole.

Personality Traits

Companies need to select supervisors who have personality traits that make them well-suited for the day-to-day demands of a supervisory job. Examples of important personality traits for managers to have include:

  • Effective listeners - Managers probably spend more time listening to other people (employees, peers, customers, superiors) than just about anything else. Supervisors who come across as unwilling to listen to what employees have to say are not viewed positively by their employees.
  • Open communicators - Effective supervisors communicate openly with their employees, providing constructive feedback to team members, taking - and asking for - feedback on their own performance and seeking input from the workers who report to them.
  • Decisive - Managers must be comfortable making decisions, often on short deadlines without all of the information they would like to have before making a choice. People who are indecisive don't do well in supervisory roles because they are stressed out by all of the decisions they have to make and are perceived by employees as unable to perform a basic management function.
  • Organized - Supervisors must be organized enough to keep track of multiple tasks and priorities, including things they need to accomplish themselves as well as items their subordinates are responsible for handling. They have to break goals down into tasks, set priorities, make assignments and ensure that work is completed in a timely and effective manner - all of which require strong organizational skills.

Formal Education

While there isn't a universal educational requirement to become a manager, companies tend to have their own requirements or hiring preferences. Some companies may require a college degree for entry level managerial positions, while others may simply look for an individual who has work experience and the skills and personality traits necessary to lead other people.

Discover Requirements

To find out what level of formal education - if any - your company requires of its managers, review job descriptions or ask your supervisor or the human resource representative.

Set Yourself Apart

Even if your company does not require a college degree, it is possible that preference is given to candidates who do have a degree, or who have at least completed some management classes.

  • If your education level meets the minimum requirements but you want to have a competitive edge, consider enrolling in college if you don't have a degree.
  • If you already have an undergraduate degree but feel you need additional education or work for a company that highly regards advanced degrees, you may want to start taking graduate-level coursework toward a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
  • If starting a degree program or enrolling in graduate school is too much of a commitment, look for short-term training programs or even seminars that you can attend to improve your skills and show your commitment to your managerial aspirations.

Asking for Consideration

If you want to be considered for a managerial role, make your ambitions known. Share your goals with your supervisor and consider asking him or her to serve as a mentor for you as you plan to move up. Ask what opportunities might become available in the near future and ask for honest feedback regarding the steps that you need to take in order to be considered.

You should also find out if there is a formal process that you need to go to in order to be considered. In some companies, you will need to fill out a formal application to be considered for a promotion. You may even need to complete a series of supervisory seminars or participate in a formal internal mentorship program.

Making Your Case

Once you decide that pursuing a management path is something that you really want to do, it's time to take a long look at how you are perceived in your organization. While you don't need to start bossing people around if you aren't a supervisor yet, you should otherwise make sure that you are conducting yourself in a way that makes you seem like a natural fit for a management role.

  • Volunteer to serve on committees and task forces, taking on positions of responsibility to cultivate management skills and build positive relationships throughout the organization.
  • Make it a point to become seen as an informal leader, someone that other workers respect and admire, by conducting yourself with integrity and being a resource for coworkers.
  • Offer to help train new workers in your department, setting an appropriate example as a role model when doing so.
  • Start adjusting your wardrobe and personal style so that your personal appearance reflects managerial apparel, accessories and grooming.

Path to Success

While following these tips won't guarantee that you'll be promoted to management, doing so will certainly place you along the path to potential success with this particular career goal. Focus on cultivating the overall skills, personality traits and other capabilities necessary for management success and be very mindful of behaving in a way that reflects positively on the organization. Chances are good that if management is an option for you, when it's promotion time you'll be in the running!

How to Move Into a Management Position