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How to become a people manager when you haven’t managed before

How to become a people manager when you haven’t managed before

After a few years in junior to mid-level roles, you may reach a point when you want to become a people manager.

Yet how do you demonstrate your management capabilities when you do not have actual experience managing a team?

Even without past management involvement, the important thing is 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 has developed a model that identifies the five most crucial strengths for leaders.

They are:
Vision – Developing a compelling vision using innovative 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 be better off remaining as a high performing individual contributor.

Motivating yourself can be a difficult task; inspiring others to share a sense of purpose and to work together effectively is downright challenging. Yet most leaders say that the hard work is worth it a team can achieve much 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 that you have Vision?

Vision is your ability to create compelling team goals. It requires synthesizing complex information and innovative thinking to create an objective that is achievable and inspiring.

Even if you do not yet manage people, you can demonstrate your ability to articulate a vision for the organization: What does your organization 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 was for a sports 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 guide everyone to a shared 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. Do not forget to also include insights and what you learned from such initiatives that you can refer to in the future.

If this is a capability you lack, could you start now? Perhaps you propose a new process or project that will help your team reach a shared goal. You do not need to start with big wins, but by engaging with your colleagues early on, your impact will increase over time.

As you seek 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 your vision for the organization, the team, as well as your role and the impact you aim to make as you move toward 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.

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