How To Advance As A Manager

Advance Your Career

When most people are considering the advancement of their careers, they may consider all the external factors that will impact their careers. Are they at the right company? Will there be openings available for them? Who will decide on their promotions and compensation? Unfortunately, while these things should be considered, they are not the keys to advancing one's career. Success factors in a management career are internal and personal decisions that can be affected directly by the person. Of course, some of these internal decisions may change external factors, but those changes are typically secondary. Some of the key items to consider when attempting advancing your career are: understanding your strengths and improving on any identified weaknesses. Keep in mind that most of the points below are tailored for use by new managers, but can be applied at almost any point in one's career.

Knowing yourself, both strengths and weaknesses, is probably one of the biggest things that can influence your success as a manager. As a new manager, the change in roles and responsibilities can be somewhat overwhelming, so it is not recommended to perform this type of personal inventory immediately after promotion as the results can be somewhat discouraging. Waiting for the dust to settle will help a person identify real areas of strength and concern without the results being skewed by such a major change. A personal inventory can be very formal and administered by a professional trainer in a one-on-one or classroom setting. This can be helpful as this expert can guide the manager through the results. However, a person can take an inventory at anytime and utilize friends, peers or mentors to help them make an action plan.

A personal inventory is simply listing out one's accomplishments, failures (or opportunities for improvement), strengths and weaknesses. The key to making this a meaningful exercise is to require at least two to three examples of each item written down. Having these examples required will cause a person to reflect on actual events and not how they perceive themselves. This can be an eye opening exercise for some people. They may have always thought they were good at written communications, but when trying to come up with examples, they realize that most of their written memos have actually caused more confusion or questions and their true strength was in verbal communications.

Once the personal inventory is complete, a person should work with someone they trust to begin to act on what they have discovered. There should be action points for both strengths and weaknesses. For items that have been identified as strengths, a manager should begin to seek out opportunities to continue to develop and model their expertise. For instance, a person who has determined they have good organizational skills may request to be a part of an event organization task force or volunteer to work with other employees to improve their organization. This will help to showcase their talents while forcing their superiors to take notice. When there are more than two or three weaknesses identified, the manager must first prioritize these skills. This is because it is impossible to improve in numerous areas at one time without losing focus. When the most important skills needing improvement are identified, a learning plan should be developed. This may include formal classroom learning, on-the-job training or even supplemental reading. The type and amount of training will depend on the skill identified and the current skill level. Admitting that you need assistance or further development should not be viewed as a negative by most supervisors, provided that it is framed as opportunities for further development instead of correcting deficiencies required in your current position. A manager should also be very careful about avoiding assignments that would put pressure on areas they have self identified as weaker. Their supervisor may be purposefully creating this situation because they want to see how the manager can perform under pressure and utilize all their resources. Additionally, there is rarely anything better for improving skills than simply practicing.

As a manager continues to develop their skills, they should be continuously discussing their improvements with their superiors. They should also continue to take on assignments that stretch their current comfort zone of skills. This will get them noticed by superiors and when promotions are considered, hopefully they are on the short list because of this.

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