Developing The Skills Needed For Your First Management Role


Career development is one of the many things that many modern companies like to brag about, but it’s rarely actually put into place. This is why developing your own career in the way you want, especially if management is your goal, maybe something which you take into your own hands.

Therefore, developing the right skills in order to be considered for or hired in a managerial role is vital for your own personal career progression. To do so, you will have to keep the following in mind:

Gaining Experience… When You’re Not a Manager

One of the first things you may need to consider is gaining managerial experience when you’re not yet an actual manager.

Planning for a career move towards a more senior position or aiming for a promotion in your own role can be great. But, being able to demonstrate managerial skills having never actually been in that position can be more difficult than you would expect. Of course, there are plenty of ways to circumnavigate this. Some are more effective than others.

A good chance to test out your managerial skills is to ask to be put as the lead on a particular project. As a project manager, you will have to utilize and exhibit many of the skills needed as a manager in order to get the job done. So, it’s a good chance to put all that you have learned into practice. As well as demonstrate to those perhaps considering you for a bigger role that you have what it takes to lead not only one project, but the team as a whole.

The more effectively you are able to deliver your project, with good teamwork and to a high standard, the better your managerial skills are becoming. Leading a team to do a high-level of work, on time and on budget is no small feat. The success in doing so, therefore, can be the experience you need to take that next step towards management.

Of course, there are also other ways that you can develop your management skills on an individual basis.

Look at How You People Manage

People and team management are one of the biggest ways that you will be tested in a managerial role, so obviously developing these skills as early as possible is important. But, being able to do this from a non-managerial role can be a little bit harder.

Conflict-management, raising morale during periods of demotivation and even recognizing people for a job well done is all part of a good team management. Being stern and telling people off happens sometimes, but it really isn’t the main purpose of the role. So, it should be relatively easy for you to develop these other skills even when not in a managerial role.

Managing people can often be the most difficult aspect of the job. Understanding that people react to different management styles, need varying levels of support from you and may not appreciate too much ‘hand-holding’ should be your first lesson taken from this. The more people come to you and rely on you for feedback, advice and the like, the better your managerial skills are becoming. So, keep this in mind when attempting to develop this skill for the first time.

Resistance and anger also likely mean you maybe being a little heavy-handed in your attempts, so try to learn from this as best you can. Change and adapt your behavior, rather than trying to bully your way into a position of respect. Earning it can be all the more rewarding for this reason because it means you have learned and developed your skills to do so.

Work on Communication

Being able to talk to people is a solid life skill. One that needs to be applied in the workplace, but so often gets overlooked. Whether poor communication between the management and staff, poor communication between the staff itself or even bad communication methods when it comes to clients.

The issue is that communication issues can appear anywhere in an organization. So, being able to facilitate better communication is a skill which is very desirable in someone in a management position. Especially as bad communication can lead to a variety of issues, which grows worse over time and can lead to the need for mediation as a form of dispute resolution.

Communication can actually be a very powerful tool for you to master in any role, not just as a manager. So, working on this in pursuit of your promotion or first management position can be valuable for both the short and long term impact on your job. For that reason, there are a few things you can do to work on your communication skills in the workplace:

  • Be clear and concise in whatever you’re saying.
  • Try to listen more; listening helps to make you a better communicator.
  • Repeat things back so people know you have listened and understood them (but not to the point where it becomes parroting).
  • Use a respectful tone always, even to someone below you. Snarky tones or rudeness can quickly demoralize a team.
  • Don’t send long emails, keep them as concise and to the point as your verbal communication!
  • Make meetings matter; communicate but don’t drag out!

Create a Better Environment

People spend so much of their lives in the working environment. So, to have this be a negative or otherwise unpleasant place to be can be extremely damaging to their long-term mental wellbeing. For that reason, if you are looking to step into a management role in the future, it can be vital to learn how best to influence your work environment in a positive way.

Of course, this can come in small things. Arranging team building activities or day’s out, making sure people feel able and willing to sometimes break away and chat during the workday, or even just little things like everyone choosing the music for the day. Each can be one brick towards building a more pleasant environment.

Encouraging potential innovation and flexibility in how people approach their work, too, can be a good way to affect the working environment. People feel more positive the more control they have over their work. So, as you work towards a management role, being encouraging and supportive of new things can be worthwhile. As, when you are in a position to do so, you can take that support and push it towards potential implementation.

Trust and the feeling of being valued is not something which you can instill overnight. They are fostered over long periods and often come through the hard work of the manager. So, starting this as early as possible–even when not in a managerial role–can be one way to demonstrate the development of your management skills.

Concluding Thoughts

On the whole, developing the skills which you will need to be effective in a management position is not something which you can learn in one afternoon. It is a collective of skills you must build from the start of your career, which can then be applied to help support others to do the same. Once you understand and can apply this to your managerial skills, you will be ready for that next step.

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