How to Prepare for Your First Management Role
Moving into your first management role is a positive step forward for your career, but you’ll find it differs significantly from being a regular employee.
There are whole new skills to learn and knowledge to be acquired if you’re to make a success of the opportunity, and if you try to step into a supervisory role without gaining the skills you need, you’ll find it a rocky road ahead. Your bosses won’t be impressed with your management capabilities, and the staff you’re supervising won’t be impressed with your personnel management skills.
The solution is to prepare for management by taking steps to educate yourself and find out what the role involves before you start.
In larger organizations, employees are usually placed on a management induction program that trains them and prepares them for the new role, but smaller businesses may have little more than a brief induction. If your firm doesn’t have an extensive and all-encompassing starter course for new managers, see if they have any appropriate training courses, or look at what external training you could attend.
Training for your new role in management
You probably won’t realize until you’re doing the job how difficult it can be to manage the responsibilities that come with a more senior role. You’ll have new levels of responsibility that could include such tasks as managing budgets, staff timetables, maintenance schedules, IT services, and looking after the people in your team. Taking on these tasks involves a combination of management skills and business knowledge, and although you can pick up some of these skills on the job, comprehensive training is the best way to learn how to be an effective manager and a good boss.
One of the most beneficial methods of learning management skills is to study for a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA). These comprehensive courses cover all the key areas you need to be competent in to operate effectively in a management role, including:
- Financial management
- Marketing skills
- Human resources management
- Organizational structure
- Workplace legislation
- Communication skills for managers
You’ll cover the factual aspects, such as the laws that affect the workplace and how to create a budget, but crucially you’ll also develop your abilities in areas such as critical thinking, decision making, and the challenges of equity, efficiency, and effectiveness in business. You don’t need to study full-time for an MBA; many students combine working with studying part-time or as a distance learner.
Don’t assume that it’s too late to start a long-term course of study like an MBA once you’ve secured your first position. Many students find that the combination of practical experience and coursework enables them to learn from each and enhance their performance in both. Enroll for an online MBA specializing in General Business from a reputable institution like Redlands University, and in as little as two years you could gain a valuable qualification.
In addition to your training, you need to gain experience from being on the job as well. If this is your first management role, you may have a little leeway to allow for your development into managerial material, but the learning curve is usually quite steep, and you’ll be expected to have a grasp of the role and start being effective within a short period.
The best approach is to take on the role enthusiastically, but without pushing yourself too hard. If you play it too safe, you won’t get a chance to shine and impress your boss; on the other hand, if you take on too much, you’re likely to end up making poor decisions in some situations, or even burning yourself out.
You can learn a lot from senior colleagues, but be wary of taking everything everyone says to you as the gospel truth. You’ll find different people who have alternative views and ways of dealing with the functions of being a manager. In many cases, these different ways of handling a given situation aren’t flawed; they just suit the person who is in that position best. In other instances, views may be outdated or inappropriate, and you need to be able to determine which applies to every piece of advice you’re given.
If you’re not sure about anything, ask. As long as you aren’t repeatedly asking how to do the same thing you won’t have a problem with seeking advice, and asking questions is a sign of thoughtfulness and an inquiring mind rather than incompetence. Whether you’re preparing yourself for a role, you know you’re taking on, or just aiming to be primed and ready for an opportunity when it comes along, your best bet is to gain as much knowledge and experience as you can.