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5 questions to ask yourself if you want to be a manager

Want to climb the ladder? Ask yourself these important questions before you make a pitch for that promotion.
Image: Young woman sits with mug in home office
When the only person you’re managing is yourself, it can be easy to stir up motivation, but when you manage a team, you are responsible for motivating a variety of different personalities.Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images/Caiaimage

After a couple of years working in the corporate world, turning to management can seem like a “natural” progression in your career. It’s easy to see how others come to this conclusion — there aren’t many examples of well-known leaders who aren’t in some sort of management role. However, what most people don’t take into account is that aiming to be a manager isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Entering management requires a whole different set of skills, and just because someone is good at what they currently do does not ensure they will make a good manager.

Given this conundrum, how do you decide whether or not management is the right career move for you? Ask yourself the following questions to find out.

Question 1: What Are Your Aspirations?

Have you thought about where you’d like to see yourself in five years? If not, now is the perfect time to assess what you actually want out of your career. As someone thinking of going into management, it’s important to ask yourself if you want to stay in the corporate world or if you want to strike out on your own and pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. While you may still end up managing others if you start your own business, you’ll likely be focusing on other important issues such as learning the latest digital marketing tactics and pitching investors.

Additionally, ask yourself what about management appeals to you. If it’s the fact that you’ll get to coach and train others, then that aligns well with usual managerial duties. But if you’re solely focused on more money, you may want to take a hard look at whether or not management is right for you. There are plenty of other ways to earn more money that don’t involve managing and taking responsibility of a team.

Question 2: Does Conflict Scare You?

Effective communication skills are necessary for managing workplace conflict, yet this is one area which managers seem to be lacking the most. A study from Robert Half Management Resources found that nearly one in three workers thought their managers needed to work on communication skills.

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. If you’re looking at a future in management, it’s important to recognize that you will have to deal with workplace conflict on a regular basis. “Managers must be seen as having an open and honest communication style. It is a necessary skill to share the vision of the company, provide constructive feedback and gain credibility and trust. Once they establish solid relationships, people will be comfortable sharing their frustrations, and that in itself may avoid conflict,” says Dan DeNisco, senior vice president at Robert Half.

Question 3: Are You Able to Motivate Others?

When the only person you’re managing is yourself, it can be easy to stir up motivation. You know yourself best, and you know exactly what it takes to feel inspired. However, when you manage a team, you are responsible for motivating a variety of different personalities.

As such, it is important for managers to take big, company-level strategic goals and “‘translate’ [them] into specific actions that employees in each department must take to support this goal,” says Professor Radoslaw Nowak, J.D., Ph.D., HR management and labor relations, NYIT School of Management. Nowak goes on to explain that ensuring that each employee’s performance is linked to your company’s strategic initiatives is key, because according to research, motivation will increase if your employees know how they can contribute to the success of the company.

Question 4: Can You Be Objective and Fair?

No one wants to be managed by someone who allows their biases to cloud their judgement in the workplace. Treating certain employees differently can demotivate your team, create ill will and decrease overall performance. It’s crucial that you’re able to treat all your employees fairly and by the same set of rules rather than creating exceptions for favorites. Establishing a culture of fairness and objectivity leads to a host of positive outcomes.

If you cannot be objective and fair with a variety of different people, you may want to reconsider your aspirations to manage people.

Question 5: Are You Ready to Let Go of (i.e., Delegate) Certain Tasks?

You’re probably used to owning every project and task that you’ve been assigned. And the fact that you’re now considering a role in management probably means that you were doing well at accomplishing those tasks. But are you ready to let go of that ownership and start delegating?

It can be difficult to let go and not be in control of everything, but delegation is a sign of leadership. And “according to research into motivation, delegation of authority to employees should increase their intrinsic motivation,” says Nowak. If employees are given a great sense of autonomy, Nowak explains, they will be more intrinsically motivated to complete their tasks, and performance will improve as a result.

Now that you’ve asked yourself these challenging questions, has anything changed? If you still plan to pursue a manager role, make sure you’re preparing yourself to tackle the questions and situations posed above. But if not, good for you on realizing that a different path may be a better decision — for both you and your company.


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