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A career in management; have you got what it takes?

recent report by the CIPD stated that ‘Manager behaviour not only impacts on employee health and well-being, but also on employee engagement’. As we mentioned in our last blog, effective engagement of employees is critical for business success.

Being a good boss matters. As the saying goes, ‘people leave managers, not companies’, and 50% of people who leave their jobs cite a bad manager as the reason.

Although each manager will have a unique style, those who are successful share a certain set of characteristics and, in our experience, these characteristics are evident quite early on in a career.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you find out if you’re made for management:

Are you conscientious?

Good managers need to be organised, diligent, accountable and attentive – they need to be able to plan, problem-solve and delegate and motivate everyone to stay on track.  Strong management requires a specialised set of soft skills to manage a multitude of tasks simultaneously, not least of which is effective communication. Making the time and effort to listen to, update and provide feedback to your  team can have a significant impact on their satisfaction and output.

Are you empathetic?

To get the best out of people and create high performing teams that drive company success, you need to take the time to understand and support your employees. The best managers genuinely care about their employees and show empathy in their time of need.

That means knowing their strengths, ensuring their needs are met and providing career development opportunities. Ultimately, being a manager isn’t about being the most productive person in the business, it’s about helping others to be their most productive.

You can read more about the importance of talent management in our previous blog.

Do you have self belief?

Being a manager requires belief in your own ability and worth; after all, no one else will believe in it if you don’t. Likewise, you need to have faith in your employees – this will avoid the need for micro-managing. Vigilance and thorough screening at the recruitment stage can help you find people you genuinely trust to deliver – as well as minimising the cost and hassle of performance management issues down the line.

You also need to believe in the business you’re managing and its values. We recently interviewed Amanda Wilkinson, Director of Universities Wales, for our series of Interviews with Leaders in Wales. She said: “I fundamentally believe that what I’m doing is important. As soon as you stop believing in what your organisation represents, you’re in trouble”.

Are you credible?

To be trusted and admired as a manager, you need to have credibility. As well as having the right level of experience and expertise, this includes treating employees the way you’d want to be treated, being consistently reliable, and being open and honest.

“You need to be able to motivate your team, trust people and deal with problems, as well as being transparent,” says Amanda. “As soon as you stop having a real conversation, you lose integrity”.

Managers who demonstrate they’ve ‘walked the talk’ or aren’t afraid to ‘get their hands dirty’ are the ones that earn the greatest respect. Hannah Heath, Finance Director for JoJo Maman Bébé, says: “I would never expect anybody to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”

Do you have drive?

When it comes to management, tenacity and ambition is more important than natural ability. Carys Hughes, CFO of Creditsafe, says: “I wouldn’t say I’m a gifted mathematician, but I learnt to be good at it. I’m quite disciplined and regimented and I have a good memory, so that helped.”

Lynda Campbell, Director of LJC Associates and former Director in Wales at British Gas says: “I was probably one of the only leaders in British Gas that didn’t have a degree, but I’ve got 30 years’ practical experience. I focused on learning new things every day; I watched others and learned from what they did.”

Being driven is also important when it comes to representing the interests of your team and making difficult decisions; in your efforts to do things right, you won’t always please everyone and you need to be okay with that.

Even the most experienced managers need good managers to help them be successful. So, while these are great questions to ask of yourself, they’re also questions you can ask about your prospective or current manager.

As recruiters specialising in management and leadership, we talk with aspiring and inspiring managers every day and they all have their own distinctive strengths. But the ones who strike us as the most capable and who thrive as managers, are those who care about their teams, give room to grow, believe in their abilities, have strong moral principles and are incredibly conscientious and driven.

If you think you have what it takes for a career in management and work in HR, marketing, finance or business development, contact us today to find out how we could help.

You might also be interested in: Important questions to ask yourself before moving jobs.

To find out how we can work with you, please drop us a line