Transitioning To Management


It’s time to make the move into a supervisory role.

The first thing that’s essential is to know why you want to apply for a management position. Is it the increased salary that’s attractive, the opportunity to lead, a new challenge or is it just because there’s nowhere in your organization to go but up and you figure if you don’t apply it may appear to others that you have no ambition? In other words are you running away from your current position or embracing a role with more responsibility and authority?

I was speaking with someone recently who is in the process of transitioning into a supervisory position. When I asked her why she wanted a senior position in the company she works for now she started with, “I think I’m ready…” Whoa. Let’s stop right there. I asked her, “Are you ready or aren’t you? Can they afford to put you in a senior position where you would be an example to others if you only think you’re ready?” I took two short sentences and spoke each out loud to her; “I think I’m ready”, and “I’m ready.” The second of the two is more assertive while the first suggests there is some doubt in your mind.

When you are currently working in a front-line role and want to transition into a position of leadership, there is a lot more required than just submitting your application and going to an interview. One of the key things to realize is that on a daily basis, the people who may be in a position to advance your career; people who may in fact be on the interview and selection panel in the future, have to start seeing you differently in the here and now. The challenge becomes therefore how to go about your business and fulfill your current responsibilities yet at the same time be pegged as management material.

For starters, it might start with dressing yourself differently when you leave home each day. Do the people in the role you are going after wear clothing that differs from those in the role you have now? If so, you’d be well advised to notch your attire up a grade and start introducing new clothing choices into your wardrobe that reflect the position you want. Simple things like your choice of hairstyle and grooming require some attention too. If you’ve got long hair you wear down to the middle of your back and it has a tendency to fly around, you may want to consider getting it more under control; off your face and up or maybe even cut and styled in a new look. A sharp, crisp look.

Now while you shouldn’t abandon all your current co-workers and isolate yourself from the very people you might be supervising in the future, you should consider mingling with the people you want to become your peers in a position of higher authority. Start doing a little research now and find out what you have in common, and see if those things will help spark conversations.

One of the most obvious things you may need to do is start to be more assertive and confident about your decisions in the work you do now. Making a decision to take on greater responsibilities while working on joint projects might be something that up until now you’ve avoided. Leaders lead as they say, so now is the time to show others that you’re not intimidated by a greater workload, and you can handle additional responsibilities. These are the kind of decisions that will either provide you with the examples you’ll find extremely helpful in an interview or betray you with if you pass them up. Being able to cite examples of your leadership, successes you’ve brought to projects and your ability to take on additional work is critical.

It’s also a good idea to speak with your immediate supervisor and let him or her know that you have aspirations of advancement. Tell them how much their leadership has been helpful to you and follow with a request for their guidance, opportunities to learn such as approval to attend training sessions or be put in positions of leadership where you can hone your skills.

At the outset of this piece, I indicated it is critical to know WHY you want to advance into a management role. Not only are you going to be asked at the interview, but you can bet anyone you speak with such as your boss or a co-worker is going to be curious too. Good advice is to frame your answer not around what you want, but rather address how you see opportunities to positively influence how people go about doing business and add to the organization.

Focusing in on how your experience on the front-line has given you the necessary appreciation for how the customer or client relationship is  forged, but wanting to be in a position to positively guide and mentor people is far better than saying you’re ready for a change.

One last suggestion I have is to determine what’s in the way of your advancement and take the steps to remove that barrier. Whether it’s additional experience, credentials, your lack of ambition or effective writing skills, addressing those things now can greatly help you overcome flaws which otherwise might deem  you not ready.

All the best!

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