How to become a people manager when you haven't managed before
After a few years in junior to mid-level roles, you might have reached a point where you want to become a people manager.
Yet how do you show that you are capable of becoming a people manager when you don’t have experience managing a team?
Even without past management experience, what’s important is that you can demonstrate that you have the capabilities that managers need in their day-to-day role.
This isn’t just about practical skills such as time management, goal-setting and having difficult conversations.
Through a comprehensive review of leadership theories and principles, Hudson’s in-house research team has developed a model that identifies the five most crucial strengths for leaders.
Vision – The ability to create a compelling vision with out-the-box thinking
Action – Showing courage while managing change and uncertainty effectively
Impact – Creating a shared sense of purpose to inspire others to perform
Connection – Embracing diversity across perspectives and cultures
Drive – Confidently pursuing challenges with a thirst for learning and feedback
Through psychometric assessments of 7,000 professionals around the world, we found that for most of these strengths, the difference between a manager and an individual contributor was minimal. However there was a big divide between managers and non-managers’ strengths in Vision and Impact (and a smaller gap for Action).
To prove that you are ready to take on a people manager role, you need to demonstrate the ways you can lead through Vision and Impact, otherwise you may as well stay as a high performing individual contributor.
Motivating yourself can be a difficult task; inspiring others to share a sense of purpose and work together effectively is downright challenging. Yet most leaders say that the hard work is worth it because as a team, you are able to achieve a lot more than an individual ever can.
This ability to motivate others to do their best work is what separates managers from non-managers.
How can you demonstrate you have Vision?
Vision is your ability to create a compelling end-goal for a team. It requires being able to synthesise complex information and think outside the box to turn the information into an objective that’s achievable and inspiring.
Even if you don’t yet manage people, you can demonstrate the way you can clearly articulate the vision for the organisation – what does your organisation do, how do you do it and what are you trying to achieve? More importantly, can you communicate this vision in a clear, compelling and enthusiastic way?
Are there projects that you have initiated or goals that you have set for yourself and your team, based on your insights and thinking? What outcomes have been achieved thanks to your Vision? Furthermore, how do you break down your Vision into tangible goals quarterly, monthly, weekly? Do you have a process or a calendar that marks your progress towards these goals? If not, create one today.
You also need to find examples where you have taken complex information and used it to make decisions about what you need to be doing and why.
In order to develop strategic visions, you need to be equipped with the latest insights from your industry. Give evidence about your enthusiasm for constant learning, for example, the newsletters you read, workshops you attend or networking that you do.
How can you demonstrate you have Impact?
Impact is the capability to create a shared sense of purpose to inspire others to unleash their potential.
To show that you can create Impact and a lasting impression, you need to demonstrate that you are able to influence others.
Cite previous examples of your involvement in coaching and mentoring within your industry and any instances where you helped build a team – even if it’s outside the workplace such as sport team or community group. As you describe the context, remember to define the problem and the solution clearly, so that the added value and your Impact can be seen.
Was there a time when you had to work with multiple stakeholders, all with different goals and agendas? How did you manage to bring everyone to share a sense of vision and to perform? Highlight the obstacles that were overcome as well as the measures you used to bring the individuals together to share a common goal. Don’t forget to also include insights and what you’ve learned from such initiatives that you can refer to in the future.
If this is a capability you are lacking in, could you start now? Maybe you could propose a new process or project that will help your team reach a shared goal. You don’t need to start with big wins, but by engaging with your colleagues early on, your Impact will increase over time.
As you look to enhance your sense of Impact, be ready to articulate your Vision too, as they often go hand-in-hand. You must be able to explain what your vision is for the organisation, the team as well as your role and the Impact you want to leave as you move towards the goal.
Leadership isn’t for everyone, but as professionals develop their five leadership capabilities, they find that they want to be able to share a sense of purpose and achievement with others.
Whether you are ready to take the step into a leadership role now or later, consciously developing your Vision and Impact will help you to influence people more effectively and move you further along your career.