Think You Are Cut Out For Management?

By Burk Moreland October 11, 2016

humanresources.jpgAs anyone who meets me or follows my work knows, I am passionate about growth.  The tagline “Building People, Building Companies” is really who I am.  So whether I am in a restaurant, a plane, a cab, a train, or pretty much anywhere else, anytime the subject of personal growth comes up, I jump all over it.  

One of the questions I love to ask is “What do you want to do in the future?”  Today you may be a waiter or a flight attendant or an intern or a service rep.  What do you want in the future?  Many times, people respond with “I want to move up” or “I want to be promoted.” To their surprise I respond with one word… Why?  Too many times people get caught up in wanting to move up for the wrong reasons.  It’s about money, power or control. And while all of those are important, if those are the only reasons to do it, misery usually accompanies them.  

If you think you are ready for management, answer these questions honestly:

Do I like to get credit when things go right?

Do I like my free time to be just that, MY free time?

Am I the best at my current job level?

Do I believe that management has an easy job where they just sit around and let everyone else do all the work?

Do I resist deadlines and pressure?

Am I not capable of getting anything more done in a day than I am today?

If the answer to any of these was yes, slow down and really think through what you are after.

As an EFFECTIVE manager, you should only take responsibility when things go poorly.  In fact, when they go right, your team should get the credit.  Leadership is lonely.  You celebrate with the team when you win, you stand alone to take the heat when you don’t.  That is part of the job.

A move into management rarely means less time invested at work.  In fact the time can be considerably more because if you truly care about your team, you will struggle to allow your mind to “leave” the office.   With our connected world, you will get constant updates and information regarding performance that can ruin dinners, vacations, TV nights and bedtime.  It takes some serious practice, systems and training to not have this happen.

If you are currently the top performer at your current level, the move to management could be wrought with landmines.  The skill sets are most likely different, the pay may be less, and hardest of all, your ego may not be able to absorb the punishment of moving up and no longer being the star.  Athletes battle with that last part as they move from high school to college and then again if they make the pros.  Very few are the star at every level.  In your job, sometimes it is better to stay where you are and enjoy being the best.  This is probably the hardest answer to give, but one that people usually know very quickly when they make the transition.

If you believe you do all the work, you have no idea what management actually does.  I am making a generalization here based on most of the companies I see and know, but I would venture that few companies (in the public sector for sure) have managers that do little to no work.  If they do, they won’t last long in business anyway.  Generally, the work changes, but there is still a huge amount to do, and even more to answer for.  The responsibility is the key difference.  As stated above, if it is good, the team gets credit, if it is bad, it is the manager’s fault…

Deadlines and pressure to perform only grow as you do in a company.  Do you enjoy being asked to come through in a pinch?  Do you relish being relied on when a difficult problem comes up?  Will you put in the extra time and effort without a second thought?  Those people are usually the ones that become managers because that is their world more days than not.

If you can’t get anything else done in the day in your current job, then managing a team is not for you.  You will be called to fill in on others work constantly.  You will be pushed to learn more than you know at a faster pace than is comfortable.  Efficiency will be your key to success.  If you can’t figure it out at the level you are today, it is not going to get any easier at the next level.  Volunteer to do extra training or help with projects once yours are done early.  Push yourself to produce more than expected versus the minimum performance standard.  These are traits that will get you noticed and considered for promotion.

All of these are ideas that assume you have a somewhat dynamic company that has effective leaders and managers currently in place.  If leadership is ‘asleep at the wheel’, then none of this matters anyway and you need to get out as soon as possible.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their potential and grow.  For some that means moving up and leading teams, but not everyone needs to be a leader in that sense.  Some can be leaders as amazing team members on their teams where they step up and lead smaller projects.  They learn new skills and grow in the position they are in.  They are content with their role and enjoying life as it is.  Leadership is lonely…Be careful what you wish for.

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