For years you’ve ground through the days at your current job without much movement on the promotion front. Every day you go to work and dream of something more, but what can you do right now to turn those dreams into results? To start, you can focus on polishing up your management skills.
So what can you do to improve your management skills? To assist you on your upward journey toward management, we asked professional development experts to weigh in and assemble a list of ways you can begin building your management skills. With a new year comes a new you—read the tips below to see how you can bolster your management skills and become a better leader.
18 Ways to develop your management skills
1. Shadow a manager
Tanner Rankin, CEO at Source Approach Inc., advises asking your manager if you can shadow them in your free time or on lunch breaks.
“Tell them you are looking for a mentor in a management role you are targeting, then soak up as much time as possible as you watch, listen, ask questions and learn.”
Not only does this help you pick up on how they approach a management role, but it also makes your future career intentions clear.
2. Expand your reading list
If you have free time in the evenings, grab a book related to management and learn from experts. Rankin recommends, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie, one of the most popular self-help books. Management books offer tips and strategies to working with people and succeeding in the business world.
Volunteering outside of work is a great way to build up your resume and show that you are invested in your community. Also, volunteer at work—volunteering to head projects or lead meetings helps you gain vital management experience. These volunteer opportunities can give you a chance to branch out into work areas you may not typically have much to do with, meet new people and hopefully impress with your leadership and flexibility.
4. Establish time-management skills
“Managing people can be incredibly time-consuming,” says Jake Tully, head of the creative department at Truck Driving Jobs, “It’s incredibly easy for hours and days to slip by when managing others. Work on establishing healthy skills in your own life as far as time management is concerned, and it will be much easier to transfer those skills to a management position down the line.”
Learning to be efficient with your time is a key step to success—read up on time management tips and figure out what you can apply to both your personal and professional life.
5. Seek out additional opportunities
Always be on the lookout for ways you can take on new responsibilities at work—particularly if they’re relevant to where you want to take your career.
“Good managers are usually open to delegating aspects of their job, and by earning some of those tasks, you can become experience in certain managerial duties while still working in your current role,” says Lyn Alden, founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy.
6. Learn marketing and persuasion
Alden also recommends learning how to market yourself and use persuasion. Managers need to know how to sell products and how to sell to people. This involves learning skills such as public speaking, sales and customer service. No matter what industry you go into, these skills can help give you a boost in relationship building.
7. Start an entrepreneurial side gig
Earning extra money is always a bonus, but having a small business on the side can give you experience managing a business. Whether you have employees or not, you will still learn how to execute decisions and how to run a business—and that perspective can be incredibly valuable for managers.
8. Perfect the art of small talk
Managers need excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Learn how to meet people and make small talk. Kaycee Wegener, marketing director at Rentec Direct says it’s important not to ignore relationships with your coworkers. “People want to work with someone who is easy to talk to. The more you are liked by your managers and directors, the more likely it is you will be promoted to a position to manage others.”
9. Work on developing your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others and act accordingly. This is an important skill for managers to have because it allows them to pick up on employee’s needs, be self-aware and build lasting relationships. Work on building up emotional intelligence by learning to listen, assessing your strengths and weaknesses and creating a plan for personal development.
10. Develop a leadership mindset
If you aspire to leadership, you need to begin thinking like a leader now. “Don’t just wait for opportunities to come. Think about how you can raise your profile and become more visible in your organization,” says John Hamilton, managing director of bfpeople. He suggests volunteering to run projects or developing projects to gain experience leading a team.
11. Learn continuously
“The best candidates I interview are constantly learning,” Hamilton says. “Look everywhere for opportunities to learn new skills and develop yourself.” He recommends moving outside your comfort zone and learning about different areas of business that compliment your current role—for example, if you are interested in sales, also learn about marketing.
12. Prove yourself in your current role
It can be easy to get caught up in dreaming about your future in management, but if you don’t prove your worth in your current position, it will be hard to move upwards. Show your current manager that you are worthy of a promotion by excelling in your role. Solidify your reputation as a hard worker and hopefully your strong work ethic won’t go unnoticed.
13. Invest in a coach
You may not think you need a career coach, but having someone to bounce off ideas and give you professional advice is invaluable. Coaches can help craft the perfect resume, provide advice on career changes and help you learn how to increase your network. Not quite feeling up for paying for a career coach’s services? There’s still plenty to learn by following the blogs of career development professionals.
14. Get organized
Managers are the kings and queens of multi-tasking, so being organized is essential. Start small by organizing your desk, work station and home. Offer to take on multiple projects simultaneously so you can learn to keep information organized and prioritized. Also try organizing events, such as parties with friends or networking events.
15. Attend workshops and conferences
Even if you are not yet in management, attending management-focused workshops or conferences is a great way to dip your feet in the water. “Understanding the principles behind leadership and management will allow a person to better recognize and absorb the lessons that life throws at them,” says Biren Bandara, author and founder of Leader School.
16. Engage in team-based activities
Team building activities may seem kind of corny—trust falls, anyone? There are real benefits to participating in these activities, though. Team-based activities can help build trust and respect among your co-workers. Many businesses now invest in offsite activities for employees to participate in and grow closer; get involved and use them to build stronger relationships with those at your company.
17. Seek out business networking groups
Anyone in the business industry knows that networking is crucial. The more contacts and relationships you build, the better your chances of learning about new positions and opportunities. Try searching Facebook for local groups with meetings, or browse LinkedIn to find fully online networking groups.
18. Earn industry-specific certifications to give you a competitive edge
To stand out in your field and demonstrate your expertise, seek out what certifications employers are looking for in your area. For example, the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential and Six Sigma Green Belt certification can both be valuable to a future manager. Companies are increasingly looking for people with tech skills, so also consider earning tech certifications to further stand out. The more you know, the more you are able to contribute to your company.
Ready to improve your management skills?
While all these methods will help you build up essential management skills, don't let a lack of formal education be what holds you back. A degree will build upon your existing skills and provide you with many more ways to demonstrate effective management abilities. Even better, the existing management skills and knowledge you already have can be used to earn your degree faster with Rasmussen College's flexible, competency-based offerings. Learn more about how Rasmussen College can help you on your path to management by visiting the Business Management degree page.