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On Route to Management? Here's What You Need to Know

When you want to get ahead at work, finding the right route can be a challenge. While some larger companies have a clear hierarchy and structure, in many smaller businesses, it isn’t always clear how you can achieve pay rises and promotions. Indeed, many people continue in the same job for years before they finally get recognised and all too often that recognition comes from a recruiter, not within the company.

So what should you be doing to make sure that you are on the right track to management in your company? What sort of skills do you need to develop and how do you know what you need to focus on?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Developing Your Soft Skills

All the best managers are those who have soft skills already in place. Though the phrase ‘interpersonal skills’ might send shivers down your spine, how you deal with others as a manager has a huge impact on how work is done and how the whole team functions. If you’re still not sure what this means, a Getsling article, 15 People Management Skills Every Manager Needs To Succeed will give you everything you need to know.

For many people, the soft skills that go with management roles are a learning curve. Whether you are shy and struggle to assert yourself or you are a bit too assertive, it’s okay to try different methods of communication while you work towards your goal. Try to take on board any constructive criticism you might get without taking it personally - every colleague you encounter will need their own tailored approach and there’s really only one way to learn what that is!

While you are developing your skills, it is worth asking your manager if you can lead a team on a small project. This will give you the opportunity of role-playing a management position but will also give you a chance to show your capabilities. While everyone will still report to their manager (not you), you will have an opportunity to navigate some of the more difficult and personal aspects of management.

Developing Your Role and Responsibilities

Though a management role may still be a year or two away, you should still be developing your role and increasing your responsibility gradually. The more you experience you gain and the better you get at your current role, the more likely it is that you will be noticed and promoted. The only problem is that you need to find ways to expand without overstepping boundaries by accident.

Make a point of discussing how you can expand your role with your manager to see what they think you could do without stepping on any toes. Be clear about what you want to achieve through your development process so that you don’t end up lumbered with more work that isn’t getting you anywhere. Adding value is a really important concept and you should be thinking terms of how you can add value to your own CV as well as to the business in general.

If you want to develop a particular skill, it is always worth researching training sessions and courses that might be relevant to you. When you approach your manager to ask if you can go and if your company will fund you, you should make sure that what you will bring back is of high value. Show your manager that there is a gap in knowledge within your team that you plan to plug or give examples of how your own work will improve as a consequence of the training session.

Build a Passion Project on the Side

While getting ahead of work may be a high priority, you might also consider developing a passion project on the side. A passion project is something you do outside work that develops a new skill but isn’t necessarily relevant. The idea here is that what you are doing is fun and relaxing but it could lead you in new directions. Taking a holistic approach is a good idea and so self-development should also factor in. For example, you might decide to take up yoga which would give you a chance to relax and improve your health.

If you are lucky, your business might allow you to take some time each week to work on your passion project. This is a great idea within business as you never know when an employee is going to come up with the next amazing idea. But even if you can’t persuade your company to let you pursue a passion at work, you can still do a lot with just a couple of hours a week at home.

For some people, a passion project can take on wings of its own and become a main job. This isn’t going to happen for everyone but pursuing something of your own will build your confidence and show you what you can achieve on your own terms. Nearly half of millennials have some sort of side hustle going on so don’t be afraid of setting up your own!

When to Move On

For many employees, there simply isn’t room within their current company to move up the ladder and take on more responsibility. While this can be frustrating, don’t lose heart - start applying for jobs at other companies!

There are plenty of signs that you should move on from your current job but one of the hardest reasons to face is a lack of growth opportunity. When you are happy working with your team and you like the company, moving on can feel like an impossible move - what if things go wrong?

If this sounds like you then you need to reassess your priorities. Moving on is often your best chance to explore a new job with greater responsibility and better pay. Yes, you will have to leave your comfort zone to do this but it will almost certainly be worth it for the progression in your career. Leaving a job doesn’t mean that you have to burn your bridges. In fact, staying in touch is well recommended as you never know what the future holds.

Another common problem is what to do when you are feeling stuck and dispirited, how are you supposed to show another employer what you can do? Making a positive move is the most important thing you can do. Rather than running from one job you should be leaping towards another. Focus on the opportunity and how you can fit in at a new place and try to put your current job to the back of your mind.

Freelancing is another viable alternative if you aren’t getting anywhere in your job. Going freelance doesn’t have to be a long term commitment and you can certainly still apply for jobs within companies based on the experience you are building. However, do be warned that once you have worked for yourself and had the freedom to work to your own schedule, you might decide not to go back to a corporate life!

When you are determined to climb the management ladder at work, you need to be doing your best every day and showing that you have something about you. Developing your skills - both soft skills and those skills relevant to your job - is crucial to show that you are willing to learn and continue to grow in your career. Most managers and business owners aren’t looking for the finished product, they are looking for someone willing to change and grow in the job.

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