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Transitioning into Management

March, 2024
Adam Richardson

The transition into a management role is both exciting and challenging, marked by increased responsibilities and fresh opportunities for professional growth. 

Then of course there are some of the other enticing benefits as highlighted in our January 2024 Salary Survey… higher salaries, larger bonuses and better benefits. 

Assuming that all sounds tempting, how do you know if you are ready to move into a management position? how should you approach it? and what challenges should you expect as you take up your new role?

Core challenges of transitioning in management

The step up to management is a big one. In an ideal world, before fully embracing a managerial role, individuals would get the chance to dip their toes in the water and take on elements of their future responsibilities, for example mentoring new starters and managing small projects or budgets. 

Then, once appointed they would benefit from a seamless handover and robust reporting structure to help them through the first months of the role. Of course, all too often situations aren’t perfect, so what are the common challenges new managers face? and how should they approach them?

1. Understanding the full scope of the role: the objectives and responsibilities listed on a manager’s job description may, on paper, all appear of equal importance and potentially even complexity but a key part of the managerial step up is learning to prioritise them and understand how best to use resources to achieve the team’s objectives. That means understanding each objective, why it matters, how it will be delivered and the challenges associated with delivering it. 

2. Micro-management temptation: a little insecurity is common among new managers as they strive to build their credibility, however, a natural desire to demonstrate control and competence can result in micro-management. Open and honest communication, upward and downward, designed to empower those around you is generally a more effective way both to manage expectations and optimise use of resources.

3. Dynamic To-Do List prioritization: while junior managerial roles typically involve technical work they also involve other, often more time consuming,  responsibilities. Balancing people management, budget oversight, planning, issues that require immediate action and the long-term team objectives make solid time management skills, effective communication and a keen understanding of team dynamics a necessity.

4. Letting go of the past: holding onto previous responsibilities generally provides a false sense of value. Delegating or redirecting requests that relate to the newly promoted manager’s previous role is essential to allow them to focus on their new responsibilities.

5. Effective delegation: clearly defining expectations (objectives, desired outcomes, guidelines and timeframes) is fundamental to successful delegation, while understanding a team’s skills and preferences will further improve the efficiency with which objectives are delivered. Having delegated responsibilities, the manager’s balancing act lies in successfully encouraging autonomy, ensuring those responsible for delivery have the right support and simultaneously putting in place checkpoints to ensure everything is on track.

6. Identifying and addressing weaknesses: the ability to recognise gaps in one’s own experience or expertise and to address them is crucial to good management. Although good self-awareness can help identify weaknesses, a willingness to seek out and listen to constructive criticism is often a skill that separates good managers from their peers.

“Am I ready to manage?”

Nobody goes into management as the complete package – it is a constant learning process. However, reading this blog suggests you have a willingness to learn, as well as an ambition and a self-awareness that all successful managers need. For candidates who are unsure whether they are ready for the step up, studying their recent performance reviews as well as to ask friends’ and colleagues’ advice about areas they should work on to be ready to manage can help clarify their thinking.

The reality is however that you won’t know if you’re ready to manage until you try it. So, unless others are giving you good reasons not to try to make the step up yet, then why not back yourself? 

Securing your first management role

If you believe you are ready to move into a management role, then consider whether you want to apply for vacancies internally, externally or both. 

If you are applying internally then speak with your manager as their support is likely to be important. If applying externally then a good recruitment consultant should be able to give you feedback on how your skills, experience and even personality measure up.

Assuming there are good opportunities for progression internally, the decision makers are likely to have a good idea of your capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. However, these internal perceptions of your capabilities can also be blinkered by your past roles and behaviours. Should that be the case, or if internal opportunities are limited, then seeking promotion externally provides an opportunity to start afresh.

Good luck!

About the author:

Adam Richardson - Managing Director

Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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