THE MANAGER LEVEL UP: Three Simple Tips On How To Become A Manager

Do you feel that you have the potential to make a greater contribution to your organisation? Do you believe with every fibre of your being that you have so much that you could contribute if you were to become a manager? Have you ever found yourself thinking “If I were the boss…”? Are you ready to transition from thinking about it to doing something about it? In this issue of #TheManagerLevelUP, we present three simple tips on how to position yourself to become a manager.

Solicit Feedback

Self-awareness is the beginning of understanding and ultimately wisdom. However, as human beings, we all have blind spots – things about ourselves which others know but which are unknown to us. Those unknowns just might be hindering your upward mobility.

Like self-awareness, self-regulation/management is an integral component of emotional intelligence which, in turn, is a critical determinant of managerial success. However, you can’t manage what you don’t know.

One of the most effective ways to reduce your blind spots is to solicit feedback. This requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Sometimes the most effective feedback is not what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear.

So, who is the best source of such feedback? If you don’t already have one, I strongly encourage you to begin to cultivate a network of trusted peers and seniors on whom you can rely to be candid. You also need to develop a reputation for being open to said feedback. By this I mean that you should respond calmly and be curious without being defensive. Seek out details/specifics so that you can home in on areas for improvement.

When persons in your trusted network provide feedback on performance gaps or counter-productive behaviour, be willing to ask for advice on how they think you could close those gaps.

While you don’t have to accept all the feedback that you get as gospel truth, you owe it to yourself to dispassionately examine the content. While there isn’t universal acceptance of the aphorism that perception is reality, what is indisputable is that people behave as if their individual perceptions are indeed reality. If you want to become a manager, it’s in your best interest to understand such perceptions and to take steps to manage them.

 Inspire Trust

To gain trust, you must first be trustworthy. This is in keeping with the Law of the Harvest – i.e. you can only reap what you first sow. If you want your organisation to trust you enough to promote you to the managerial ranks, there are four key elements you need to deliver.

First of all, you need to show up as being competent – i.e. having the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to get the job done. I hasten to point out that competence and qualifications are not synonymous.  Your qualifications may help you to get the job.  However, competence is about your ability to do the job and to do it well.

The second element is character. For the purpose of this discussion, character can be defined as the collection of attributes that determines your moral and ethical actions and reactions. If the decision-makers in the organisation are to trust you enough to elevate you to management, they must see you as someone who is of good character.

Have you ever heard the saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care? If you want to earn someone’s trust, you must first prove to them that you truly care, that you wish them well. That is the essence of the third element – benevolence. Before your employer takes a decision to make you a manager, they must first be persuaded that you mean the organisation and the people within it well – that you have their best interests at heart.

The fourth and final element is actually a meta-component of trust.  By that I mean that it includes and transcends the other three elements.  That meta-component is consistency. Therefore, for you to be trustworthy, you must be consistently competent, consistently of good character and consistently benevolent. In doing so, you make a compelling case that you are ready, willing and able to level up to a managerial role.

Manage Up

Guess what – your boss needs you! Well, okay, what they actually need is someone on whom they can depend to get the job done. Why not do everything possible to convince them that you’re the best person to do so? That requires three things – namely knowing and understanding your boss; living up to your commitments; and recognising that it’s not about you. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Understand this – your boss is busy. Even if it doesn’t look that way to you, I encourage you to always assume that that’s the case.  With that as a given, if you want them to make the time to engage with you, then you need to ensure that you add value whenever you interact with them. Otherwise, they may come to view you as a drain on their time and energy and either cut off or limit your access. If your goal is to level up and become a manager yourself, that’s the last thing you want or need to have happen.

And what exactly does understanding your boss mean? It means knowing their work preferences; how they best receive and process information; what are the items on their priority agenda; what are their strengths and weaknesses; what are the things that keep them up at night. This is all knowledge that you can leverage to help ensure that you bring value to the table when you interact with your boss.

In terms of living up to your commitments, here’s something you should always bear in mind: your boss doesn’t have the time or the inclination to clean up after you.  Therefore, when they are relying on you to get something done, do it! And do it well.

Of course, there will be times when you encounter obstacles or bumps in the road.  When that happens, keep your boss in the loop, but don’t try to dump the problem on them. Rather, go to the table with possible solutions and seek guidance and/or approval for their implementation.

Finally, when it comes to managing your boss, do recognise that it’s not about you. Sometimes you don’t win the good boss jackpot. Whatever hand you’re dealt, it’s important that you know how to play it as skilfully as possible. If you have a good-to-average boss, and you apply the tips I’ve outlined thus far, you will be well positioned to succeed. However, if you end up with a boss with whom you have a more challenging relationship, there is still hope.

Everyone shows up in the workplace as a product of their individual personalities and life experiences. And that combination doesn’t always turn out to be pretty. Depending on your own personality and level of self-confidence, encountering a bad boss could prove to be a blow to your ego and could be a source of incredible levels of stress.

If you find yourself in such a situation, I encourage you to bear in mind that you are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for yourself. With the appropriate level of emotional intelligence you can experience the frustration and all the other emotions that flow from having a bad boss and still decide not to take things personally but rather to respond in a way that advances your personal agenda to take your performance to the next level.

In summary, if you want to become a manager – or if you’re an existing manager who wants to take your performance to the next level – you can advance that agenda by soliciting feedback, inspiring trust and managing up. For further information on these and other practical tips designed to help new, aspiring and veteran managers maximise their potential, click HERE to obtain a FREE SAMPLE from the soon to be released Managers’ First Aid Kit.  

Ambassador Joan H. Underwood is a senior management consultant and policy advisor with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors.

Professional designations held by Ambassador Underwood include that of a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the US-based HR Certification Institute, the Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), Accredited Director (Acc.Dir.) and credentialed Master Trainer as designated by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

She also holds the designation of an Erickson Professional Coach (EPC) and is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Joan’s most recent professional accomplishments include certification by the Human Capital Institute (HCI) in Strategic Workforce Planning and Change Practitioner as certified by Prosci© Canada and the Change Management Learning Centre.

If you are looking for the resources required to help you take your management performance to the next level in 2021, click HERE to obtain a FREE SAMPLE from her book, Managers’ First Aid Kit.

Follow her on FBIG or LinkedIn for other valuable tips and special promotions.

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