It is easy to see the appeal of a management position – the combination of higher pay and social prestige is very alluring. Management positions also come with an increase in job challenges, which some people enjoy, while the day-to-day working life for managers is often more interesting than for employees who are not in a management position.
However, there is a flipside – management roles entail a level of stress and responsibility that is commensurate with the higher pay. This could be a problem for some people, but depending on how well prepared you are, the increased expectations may be reasonably easy to manage.
What Makes a Management Position so challenging?
Managers are accountable – that is what sets them apart from employees in other levels of the organization. Whereas an employee can look at their manager for an answer, managers have to make decisions on their own. Additionally, external parties and investors will look at you as the manager for answers to questions, and they would expect you to take ultimate responsibility.
This adds pressure to the individuals involved, but the expectations coming from all directions tend to come with a sense of what is reasonable: managers are not magicians, and they will also face factors outside of their control – so even though you will ultimately be accountable, your peers and external parties will see the results that you achieve in context.
The Decisions that a Manager has to make
Management decisions affect the business on every level – and affect workers at the business personally. Perhaps some of the most difficult decisions that managers must make involve cutting jobs – William Clay Ford of HP had to lay off thousands of workers to keep the company profitable. This adds stress to a manager’s life on numerous levels, and you need to be prepared for the fact that this may happen.
Strategy is another area in which managers are key. In July 2014, Satya Nadella of Microsoft laid out in an email published on the company website the direction in which the company was headed – including a renewed focus on particular areas of the company’s market. A previous CEO of Noble Group, Yusuf Alireza (see Yusuf Alireza on LinkedIn), successfully guided the company through a difficult period by laying out the appropriate strategic map.
Preparing for a Management Role
Mentorship is by far one of the best ways to prepare you for roles in management. Managerial roles require a level of soft skills that can only be acquired through experience – engaging with someone who has considerable management experience is the best way to learn how to deal with the challenges that you are going to face.
Formal education is also useful – university programs and management courses can help you to fill knowledge gaps that can hamper you on your management career. For example, the ability to read financial statements is an important management skill, but accounting is not a job role that we all have experience of. In fact, a combination of formal education and engagement with experienced managers is the key to preparing you for your own managerial career.