As you envision the future of your career, you probably see yourself rising to the top of your team. You know you’ll be great at your job, with a nice promotion, an increase in your salary, new office, a fancy title and all the respect that comes with moving from the bottom of the food chain (entry-level) to the next level: manager.
In the workforce, becoming a manager always seems like that ultimate goal every employee should strive towards. You go above and beyond in your role, accomplish tasks better than anyone else on your team, never miss a deadline, take on any extra leadership opportunities, come into the office early and stay late. You do everything you can to prove you’re “manager material.”
But the truth is becoming a manager is not solely about leadership or being the best at what you do now. In fact, despite current trends where organizations focus more on middle management and promote the people who do their jobs best, you need a lot more skills than just being good at your work in order to be a good manager.
So if you’re a millennial ready to move up in your career and you’re thinking about management, consider these things every manager must do first:
- Let go of your to-do list. You might be used to having a to-do list full of defined tasks that you can check off as you complete them. But in management, your day-to-day work becomes less task-oriented than you might be used to. Instead of tackling individual projects yourself, you’re tasked more with ambiguous duties that will help your employees complete their assignments. These can include coaching or mentoring where needed or overseeing certain processes. At the end of the day, your people become more important than your to-do-list and you need to make yourself readily available for them.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. As your team’s motivator, coach and disciplinarian, it’s up to you to clearly communicate with your team. But it’s much more than just telling everyone what they need to do. You need to convey why a task needs to be done, how it can be accomplished, and how it will impact the rest of the organization.
At the same time, everyone likes to be managed differently. You’ll need to adjust for each person. Some prefer more hand holding with over-communication of expectations, while others prefer to have more independence.
- Take accountability for your team’s performance. When you’re just one member of a team, you’re responsible for your own work. But as the leader of an entire team, if any of your employees mess up, it’s up to you to consider what happened and remedy the situation. And when an employee fails, the responsibility partially falls on you. Whether you didn’t provide sufficient training, ignored a performance issue, or simply weren’t paying attention, you have to constantly re-assess your management with a critical eye and seek ways that you too can improve.
- Set an example for your team. You represent the leadership of your organization, which means people are looking up to you. So if you like to arrive late, leave early, take shortcuts, miss deadlines or gossip about coworkers, your employees will notice and feel it’s okay for them to behave that way as well. You have to keep in mind that your team is always watching, so demonstrate the behavior that you want your team to exemplify.
- Make tough calls. As a team member, it’s easy to lean on your manager to help you make decisions and determine the best way to proceed in tough situations. When you’re the boss, your leadership will be tested when you have to do exactly that for your team. Maybe a client is threatening to leave, maybe a team member is underperforming and you have to let them go or maybe there are some budget cuts that are going to affect your team. Whatever the situation, you’ll have to be able to thoroughly and quickly process a lot of information to decide what’s best for your team and the organization.
- Celebrate your team’s successes. It’s easy to get lost in day-to-day challenges. But you know how good it feels to be recognized by leadership for an accomplishment. When you’re a manager, your team’s successes become your successes too. Find creative ways to recognize individuals as often as possible. It can be something as simple as taking them to coffee. Whether they finish a tough project, draw in a new client or even help you in a big way, it’s important that you keep your team motivated by letting them know that you notice when the perform well.
- Be there for your team in every way. It’s important that you’re not just there to professionally motivate your team, but that you’re there to help them address work-life balance as well. Employees may come to you with situations regarding sickness, pregnancies and relationships, personal hardships or a myriad of other personal matters. Though they may not seem job-related, whatever affects your employees’ lives will ultimately affect how they do your jobs and how you do yours. Be prepared to be empathetic and appropriately respond on a personal level while figuring out how to make it work for the rest of the team.
If you’re thinking about becoming a manager, consider how your job would significantly change. You wouldn’t necessarily be doing more of the work you love and it would be a lot more responsibilities to handle. Managing means interacting with and overseeing people more. So before you raise your hand for that promotion, just make sure you’ve fully considered what it takes to manage people, so you’ll be ready.
This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5.