6 Useful Ways You Can Progress Your Management Career

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Being a manager is an important job that requires certain character traits and a level of experience in the field you’re working in.

Key Points:

  • A good manager should know the industry of their choice well enough to make the right decisions for their team and be able to lead employees through the ups and downs of working life.
  • Being able to actively seek out advice from your community will help you to hone your skills as a manager and see how you can improve.
  • There are many things you can do to progress in your career as a manager and being proactive is key. Keep actively pursuing opportunities to get the most out of your development.

What skills do you need to be a good manager?

A managerial role will require you to be a confident leader – someone who’s able to motivate and encourage others, while keeping the team on track.

As you’ll have a team relying on you, you’ll need to be able to be an advocate for them and speak to more senior colleagues if they’re coming up against any problems.

Your team will also likely come to you for advice and guidance, so good listening skills will come in handy. For instance, if a team member is having difficulties in their personal life, they may address these with you. If you can practice active listening, they’ll value you making them feel heard and you can address problems more effectively.

Being able to actively seek out advice from your community will help you to hone your skills as a manager and see how you can improve.

Leadership pushed to the limit

The skills our apprentices learn on a Leadership & Management course can prepare them for almost anything.

Listen to our ILM Level 5 delegate Jamie Davies, talk to us about flexing his leadership muscles in the Jordanian desert, during his time as a recruit on SAS: Who Dares Wins.

What are the benefits of progressing a career in management?

Here are a few benefits to progressing your career in management:

  • A sense of personal fulfilment – being a manager brings more responsibility, but this gives you a greater authority over the direction you’re taking and what you can get out of your role
  • Visibility in the company – as you move up the ranks in the company, you’ll be working with more senior colleagues who can recognise your achievements
  • Being able to make a difference – the influence you have as a manager means you can guide the team in the way you choose and make a difference to the company’s strategies
  • Being able to help others in their career – your team will likely look to you for advice when it comes to their own development, and you’ll be able to help them achieve their goals

There are many things you can do to progress in your career as a manager and being proactive is key. Keep actively pursuing opportunities to get the most out of your development.

6 ways you can start progressing as a manager

1. SMART goals to stay on track

Focusing on the big dream for your career is important but using a system like SMART can help you set concrete steps to move towards that overarching goal.

Break it down into bitesize chunks that you’ll achieve at set deadlines, and you’ll be able to keep an eye on your progress.

Each of your smaller goals should align with the SMART framework to make sure that it’s realistic and achievable:

  • S stands for “specific”. Your goals should have definite criteria that outline exactly what you’ll need to do to hit your target. “Becoming a good manager” is very vague, for example, whereas “reading at least two books on management per month” is much better.
  • M means “measurable”. The results of your actions should be quantifiable. It’s usually a good idea to divide your goal into small chunks and work on it daily, keeping track of your progress.
  • A is “attainable”. The goal should be realistic and within your capabilities. For instance, if you’re hoping to go on a course that you don’t have qualifications for yet, you’ll have to review your plan and include getting those qualifications within it.
  • R = “relevant”. The goal should relate to your life or work one way or another. Define and write down a purpose this goal serves. Is it making you a better manager? Does it align with the company’s vision? Make sure there’s something behind the intention to improve that’ll keep you going through tough times.
  • T stands for “timeframe”. Every goal needs a deadline to be attainable – this will keep you on track and accountable to yourself.

2. Find a mentor

Many people have already walked this path before you. Find ones who are willing to give mentorship and you’ll learn directly from their experience. This will boost your growth as a leader and a professional, as your mentor can give much-needed direction.

Once you’ve found a mentor that can help you, chat to them about your experiences and ask for their feedback. Do they agree with the way you handled that particular appraisal with a team member? Is there anything they would have done differently?

Feedback from experienced people is invaluable and can really help you to see how you can improve.

Remember that your own manager can be a brilliant mentor when it comes to your professional growth too.

3. Keep up to date with industry news

As a manager, you’ll be expected to know what’s going on in your industry.

Subscribing to industry publications, attending webinars or conferences, and keeping up to date on social media channels like LinkedIn can all help.

If you write an industry article yourself, sharing it with your network can help you to build authority and be seen as the go-to expert in your niche.

4. Become adept at networking

Networking can feel quite uncomfortable, even for those who are really used to it. But once you realise that everyone is there to talk about themselves and what they do, it becomes a little less daunting.

Conferences, workshops, and symposiums provide perfect opportunities for making connections. Prepare your business cards or a QR code connected to your LinkedIn to save contacts and share your credentials. The potential of your network to help you in your career is unmatched.

5. Learn how to market yourself

It can be strange to talk about your own achievements in a way that doesn’t sound big-headed. However, finding opportunities to promote yourself is key.

Your CV is the most obvious place to show off your skills and experience. Make sure it’s flawless, providing the employer with all they need to know from the first glance. The same goes for your portfolio – make it slick and memorable so it’ll stand out from other applicants.

Last but not least, only use professional photos of yourself across all of these. It’s especially important if you use job search websites to look for a manager position.

6. Seek out resources to help you

If you haven’t already, chat to your manager and HR department to see what resources are available in your workplace. It may be that there are in-person courses you can attend or workbooks you can read.

There are also plenty of free courses from reputable providers online if you’re searching for something you can study in your own time.

What training courses can help progress a career in management?

We offer training courses to help you progress in your career in management.

A great place to get started is our ‘Core Skills for Management’ training course or ‘Coaching Skills for Managers’ course. Both are led by friendly trainers who will go the extra mile to make sure you’re happy while you’re with us.

How can you use your management skills to influence a team?

As a manager, you can be a role model to the team, encouraging them and supporting them in their own career development.

If mistakes are made, you can offer reassurance and advice on how they can improve, reflecting on your own experiences.

You could be the leader that people remember for a long time to come, and it all starts with being a great manager.

Picture of Andrew Wallbridge
Andrew Wallbridge
Andrew is TSW's Head of Leadership & Management. He’s coached and mentored leaders and the senior management teams at international brands.
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