Are You Cut Out for Management?
By Larry Buhl, Monster Contributing Writer
If you’re offered a promotion to manager, you might be tempted to shout, “Yes!” with visions of bigger paychecks and more power dancing in your head. But not everyone has the qualities of a good manager and not everyone would enjoy being in a management role. A rigorous self-assessment can prevent you from becoming an “accidental manager,” which is why management experts suggest asking yourself several questions before pursuing a management job:
Can You Plan, Organize, Lead or Control?
You should excel in at least one of these management areas, according to Jill Brown, professor of management at Lehigh University. “Those who are good at planning are proactive, critical thinkers who can view multiple aspects of something,” she says. “Those who can organize can delegate the correct mix of decentralized and centralized decision making. Those who are good at leading tend to be extroverts with good communication skills and an ability to manage group settings. But it’s the rare person who can do it all.”
Do You Have an Open Mind?
If you can view things from many angles and constantly deal with change, experts say you have one of the most important (and hardest-to-teach) management skills.
Can You Support Company Goals?
Experts agree that a good manager internalizes the mission of the organization and encourages others to get behind it.
Can You Help the Company Change?
Rigid compliance to company rules can do more harm than good if the rules no longer make sense, says Michael Greaney, director of research at the Center for Economic and Social Justice in Washington, DC. “The response of the good manager is not to break the rule, but to get it changed and, in the meantime, help others comply with even the ridiculous rule as far as humanly possible,” he says.
Are You Good at Tasks and People Management?
“If a manager is too heavily focused on tasks and goals, their team members become disillusioned; too heavily focused on people and everyone feels rudderless,” says Barbara Roche, executive coach and lecturer in leadership communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Can You Listen?
Great managers don’t just dictate orders. “Great managers learn to listen first -- and that means learning to resist imposing an opinion until several views are heard,” says Atlanta-based leadership and workplace coach Darcy Eikenberg.
What Is Your Temperament?
Experts agree that many types of temperaments -- reserved, outgoing, detail-oriented, big picture -- can all succeed in management jobs. However, consistency in how you interact with others is important so employees know what to expect, experts say. And because you’ll have to deal with conflict on a regular basis, a hot temper or a compulsion to be loved by everyone will hurt your chances of success in management.
Don’t Have What It Takes (Yet)?
If you’ve surveyed your abilities carefully and find your management skills lacking (but you still want the job), there are several things you can do:
- Get On-the-Job Training: Test the management waters and stretch your own skills by volunteering to lead projects in your current job. This can be as simple as asking to lead a small, undesirable project or taking the initiative in organizing department members to reach a specific goal.
- Undertake Some Self-Study: Kathi Elster, co-author of Working with You Is Killing Me, says you can learn many managerial skills in university or community-college classes or even in weekend seminars. “You don't have to have all of the skills and traits of a good manager,” she says. “You have to have the desire to learn how to be a good manager.”
- Find a Good Mentor: A mentor can honestly tell you how to improve your skill set to land management jobs or advise you on channeling your skills into a more fulfilling career that may or may not involve management.
If a management job is not right for you, that doesn’t mean career stagnation. Experts say if you’re very good at what you’re doing and want to keep doing it, you should politely decline an offer to manage others. But you can -- and should -- ask for raises, learn new technologies and expand your skill set.