When Your Next Step Is The Management Cadre

Caroline Levchuck

You're gearing up to apply for a management position. Or maybe you're about to be tapped for a management job. But you don't have any actual managerial experience, you worry.

Or do you?

Even if you haven't formally acted as a manager, odds are you have plenty of management skills. Managing projects, timelines, budgets and schedules all require the skills that good managers need: Communication, organization, conscientiousness and more.

There's No 'I' in Team

Don't have a ready-made team with which you can hone your management skills? Ask for one!

Step up to the plate and ask to help oversee a team at your office.

Because you don't have overt managerial experience, start small. Chair the planning committee for your company's next event or party. Initiate and manage a fundraiser. Start a company sports team or -- even better yet -- create a league in your industry.

These undertakings require the same skill sets that all great managers possess. Plus, they'll give you a management role to add to your resume.

After Hours

Flex your managerial muscles outside the office. Volunteer in and around your community in a capacity that involves managing people.

If you're uncertain where to start, visit your local library and Chamber of Commerce to help identify suitable organizations. Contact local politicians or charities you're interested in supporting and offer to help organize their next event. If you have a special skill, give a workshop through your local community center or library.

All of these activities can hone your management skills and give you fodder for your resume. Plus, they offer visibility in your industry and community as well as valuable chances to network.

If You Can't Manage People ...
When you feel you're ready to step into a direct management role at work,

talk to your own manager. Share your career goal of being a manager and ask him to help you further develop your skills.

If your supervisor won't -- or can't -- let you directly manager another employee yet, perhaps you can lead a project. You would not be acting as a general supervisor to fellow employees, but you would be managing their time, tasks and performance on a particular project.

Managing a project will also allow you to experience being a manager before committing to a full-time management position. You may learn that it isn't for you after all. Or you may enjoy it so much that you vow to pursue a "management job" with renewed vigor.

Practice Makes Perfect

You likely possess some strong management skills by this point. Now is the time to perfect them.

Spend time and effort finessing your project management skills in your current position. Assess your ability to schedule projects, build timelines, allocate resources, budget funds and more.

Where do you need improvement? Seek out help from coworkers and talk to HR about taking professional development courses.

Take an inventory of your communication skills. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?

If you're a great people person but lack written communication skills, take a business communications course. Conversely, if you're a master communicator over email but lackluster face-to-face, consider taking a seminar to improve your in-person impact. Organizations like Toastmasters International and Dale Carnegie Training may be able to help.
Then once you've honed and polished your management skills, it's time to let them shine!

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