Thinking about applying for a management role when you don’t have management experience? It’s not impossible but you will have to prove you have the qualities required without the experience to show for it. Here are our quick tips for demonstrating you have what it takes.
You’re focussed on the team
To prove your management calibre you need to focus on the team. A self-serving manager is a bad manager. As a specialist consultant you need to demonstrate your skills, your expertise, your experience. When you’re looking at a management role you need to demonstrate how you would make your team perform and move away from your own achievements. Think of examples of when you took the lead in a team, whether formally or not. How have you worked with colleagues to produce the best outcome? How have you compromised and negotiated with others to secure a successful delivery? Management is about building strong, trusting relationships. If you can prove that you can do that, you’re on the way to being viewed as suitable for a management role.
You can make tough decisions
Management is not plain sailing. When you want to move into management you are making the decision to take the tough calls. You are going to have to make unpopular, but necessary decisions at some point and it is your responsibility to do that without alienating your team. When have you had to make difficult decisions before? You may have had to report a colleague for their behaviour or take issue with a system that has been poorly designed. Ensure you demonstrate that your action was in the best interest of the company and that you took rational, sensible action to remedy the situation.
You can enthuse and motivate other people
It’s all about the soft skills! Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, for the company, for the project and the hirer will believe you can inspire a team. If there’s one thing a manager can do without, it’s a spark of enthusiasm. How are you going to motivate a team if you don’t really seem that interested yourself. If you’re a specialist consultant it’s acceptable (sometimes!) to be the introvert techie as long as you are spot on in your skills. If you’re going for a management role you need to be confident, keen and personable. You need to know how to inspire the experts, you don’t need to be one yourself.
You can manage your own time and tasks
Management often involves a rather less structured task list. Yes, you may have regular things that need completing but you are likely to be doing much more ad hoc problem solving, jumping in to support your team and being dragged into surprise meetings! This takes a different approach to organising your time. Demonstrate that you can be flexible and that an unexpected mishap won’t throw a project deadline. Give examples of when you’ve had to manage difficult time frames and explain how you managed, against all the odds, to deliver on time, preferably with the help of a strong colleague base!
Don’t assume that management roles require management experience. Think about why you haven’t moved into a management role in previous positions and be clear about why this is the time, the role and the employer that will make the transition right.