How to become a manager in 3 easy steps

For business professionals, becoming a manager can be a great career move leading to increased wages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for this position in May 2016 was $100,790. The U.S. BLS also anticipates plenty of upcoming opportunities to pursue this level of income. Based on projections of the number of new and expanding companies, the BLS predicted about 505,400 new managerial jobs will arise by 2024. Yet, with so many upcoming job openings you'll likely face a large pool of competition if you move towards this position. So, here are three easy steps to make yourself stand out during this process:

Step 1: Study the role

To assert yourself as the best candidate for a managerial position, you must first have a good understanding of the role’s requirements. In order to grasp the specifics of a particular job, reach out to the company's hiring manager. When doing so, be sure to ask detailed questions about day-to-day life and long-term business goals. You can also contact people who currently hold the position for further insight into the role’s tasks and duties. The answers you receive can give you greater insight into being a manager, preparing you for both the interview and the position itself.

There are also a variety of online tools at your disposal that can help provide you with a strong understanding of your desired role’s requirements. PayScale, for example, lists job descriptions, common career paths, vital skills and pros and cons for a countless number of managerial careers. Meanwhile, Glassdoor gives you a glimpse into the inner workings of specific companies. On their website, you can read anonymous reviews from current and past managers about the successes and struggles of their position. In addition, both websites also provide salary estimates.

If you want to be even more prepared for the position, consider getting a master of business administration. The coursework in this degree can provide the opportunity to learn the high level strategy of running a business. While in school, you can sharpen your critical thinking skills, study time-honored business strategies and improve your ability to analyze data. If you have your sights set on a particular role in a specific industry, you can also choose to concentrate your education on business theory that aligns with your coursework. At the Washington State University Carson College of Business, online MBA students can focus their studies toward one of four concentrations: finance, marketing, international business or hospitality business management. Students can also choose the general MBA track for a broader education on business strategy and theory.

In fact, a 100% online MBA can be a great option if you plan to continue working while attending school. The flexible format allows you to adapt your studies to your personal schedule.

An online MBA program can allow you to simultaneously work and earn a degree.

Step 2: Develop your soft skills

Once you understand the managerial role you aspire to, you must make sure you're thoroughly prepared for it. A common misconception among employees is that becoming a manager is a natural part of their career path. Many people believe mastering their current role gives them the skills necessary to manage others in that position.

Unfortunately, this belief isn't always correct. It's true that working at the same job for several years can help you spot inefficiencies and think of better ways to organize your team. For example, a long-time software developer likely knows the strengths and weaknesses of his peers and can suggest appropriate projects for them to work on.

However, understanding your job fully doesn't mean you have the interpersonal skills necessary to lead others as a manger. To be an effective manager, you must be a good listener, communicator and negotiator. You must be able to encourage and support others, build morale, correct mistakes, give criticism, deny requests, and correct inappropriate behavior while maintaining your professionalism.

Unfortunately, manager-ready graduates and employees can be rare to find. An article from The Wall Street Journal noted many employers face difficulty finding employees who work well with others. This struggle has been echoed in articles from Fast Company, the Society for Human Resource Management and many other business- and HR-related publications.

Developing these “soft skills” is an active process. Books like How to Win Friends and Influence People can help, but you must also talk to and connect with people in order to truly better your skillset. To do so, first, evaluate your current methods of communication. Do your peers find you easy to talk to? Do you answer emails promptly? Can you control your emotions during meetings? Understanding your interpersonal strengths and weaknesses can tell you what areas to focus your improvements on. Next, be mentally present when communicating with others and work on connecting with them. Here are three quick tips:

1. Consider the other person's point of view when delivering bad news.
2. Find ways to praise your peers when they're successful.
3. Mentor others, including fellow employees and/or community members. This allows you to practice giving positive feedback and constructive criticism, and it's also a great networking opportunity.

The books and articles you find will likely provide other ways to improve y our soft skills. Putting these into practice in the real world can be more beneficial towards growth than simply reading them.

Soft skills are vital, but many employers say they’re hard to come by.

Step 3: Act outside your current role

Now that you understand the position and can effectively work with others, you need to show your employer you're capable of handling the job. To do this, seek out opportunities to work on tasks outside of your current role. For example, you might notice one of your current managers needs help launching a new project. In this instance, you can offer to spend an hour or two drafting meeting agendas and compiling slide shows in addition to your usual duties. While these aren't strictly managerial tasks, taking initiatives and offering to do extra work shows you're committed to the success of your team and the company at large.

Going beyond your current responsibilities can also catch the eye of leaders within your company, including hiring managers and executives. As you do so, your supervisors will likely commend your efforts to their bosses, and you may make your mark as a valuable team player.

Let the Carson College of Business help you

Following these three simple steps can help you portray yourself as the best possible candidate for a management role. Studying at the Carson College of Business can also be a great benefit. Earning an online MBA can give you the knowledge and skillset that may translate to a different career position, such as a manager.

Recommended Readings:
How to ace your MBA application