June 20, 2010
Management material: Do you have what it takes to be a boss?
The Associated Press
Some people are natural managers. They love to lead, drive performance and contribute to the broader goals of a company. The perks also can be enticing — more money, an office, perhaps even an expense account.
Yet management isn’t for everyone. It requires a unique set of skills to get the best performance out of employees and to juggle a number of tasks all at once. Managers also put in longer hours and are held to a higher standard of accountability.
Some workers simply evolve into managers over the course of their careers. Others are bored with their current position and see management as a way to tackle new challenges. In difficult economic times, some are promoted before they’re ready, which could put them at a disadvantage.
“It’s not just a raise in pay or better title,” says counseling coach Lynn Berger. “There are responsibilities and duties that some people are better suited for than others.”
Learn more about being a good manager with these new and soon-to-be-released books:
• “Make Work Great: Super Charge Your Team, Reinvent the Culture, and Gain Influence One Person at a Time,” by Edward G. Muzio.
• “Managing (Right) for the First Time,” by David C. Baker.
• “The QuickSteps Guide to Skills for New Managers: Essential Ingredients for Success in Management,” by Marty Matthews and Sherryl Bierschenk, coming June 22.
• “Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors,” second edition, by Meryl Runion, coming July 16.
If you’re interested in pursuing a management position, you first should decide whether it would be a good fit. Here are some questions to consider:
• What do you love about your job? Would you be disappointed if you no longer could do those tasks?
• Watch what your boss deals with every day. Are those tasks you would like to do? Could you do them better?
• Are you interested in mentoring others?
• Are you an effective communicator? Well-organized? Team-oriented? Patient?
• Are you confident and secure in your abilities and as a person?
• Can you hold people accountable? Could you discipline or fire a subordinate?
Since 1998, Dea Robinson has been managing a staff of five as practice administrator for a medical company. She likes the variety and the challenge of her work, from mentoring to trying to coax a difficult employee to succeed.
“The bottom line is: If you’re in management, you have to figure out how to talk to people, get along with people,” Robinson says.
You’re not trying to be their friend, but you have to figure out what motivates people in order to draw the best out of them, she says.
Pros and cons
Becoming a manager gives a worker a tremendous opportunity to grow professionally. Managers gain a broader perspective by being exposed to different aspects of a company’s operations. They’re forced to take a big-picture view.
As a manager, you’ll have to hire and fire people and write performance evaluations. You’ll have to deal with the unexpected, such as finding a way to keep the operation running when employees miss work because of illness, a family crisis or difficult weather conditions, or when they’re laid off.
If you’re promoted to a management position, you likely will supervise people who have been your friends, colleagues and even rivals.
If you become a manager and then discover that you hate the job, there are ways to get back into what you love.
Approach your bosses and work out a way to return to a role as an individual contributor rather than have your bosses come to you, says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at a career-consulting firm.
Make sure you can explain your reasons for wanting a change and how it will be the best move for the company. It’s also a good idea to discuss your move and the reasons for it with the people you supervise who may end up being your peers again.
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