Moving into management…the catch-22

So, I’ve decided (well, had it decided for me, really) that I want to move into management. It’s something I feel I’d enjoy, I have some skills that I believe would benefit me and it’s honestly the right move in regards to my career.

The problem is – how do you move into management without ever having had management experience?

It’s almost the same as the “First Job” catch-22 – to get a job you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. To become a manager you need management experience, but to get management experience you need to be a manager. It’s an interesting and somewhat irritating position to be in – I want to move up but I don’t know *how* to move up.

In an effort to strengthen my ‘managerial’ skills, I had taken on some ‘responsibilities’ in my current role to assist. This included being the sudo-team-lead in regards to Windows: hard enough in itself but even harder when the rest of the team *hasn’t* been told about your sudo-team-leaderness. Made for some interesting times, some personality clashes and some friction in the team. In the end, I became frustrated with it, sat the rest of the team down (all two of them) and said “This is what our boss has told me, so now I’m telling you so that we’re all on the same page”. It helped. It’s still not 100% because there is no formal ‘team leader’ role, but it has made some things easier.

So now I’m sitting in a role that’s neither well-defined or formal, and it’s…interesting. I like what I do, I enjoy some of the team leadership aspects and I do enjoy the responsibility. I don’t appreciate the fact that it isn’t formal or defined, or that my supposed “team” don’t see me as a leader. I often feel that they see me as some kind usurper, there to try and make them look bad or delegate work without doing anything, when in actual fact all I really want to do is help them do their jobs better by ensuring the shit doesn’t fall further downstream to them.

I have an attitude, I have a voice, I have opinions and I’m certainly not afraid to voice them. I am perfectly happy standing in front of a superior and saying “No”. I don’t feel that my current team mates are…yet. I think that saying “No” for them is hard, especially when there’s pressure being put on them. Or when someone else is very sure they’re right, yet you’re sure they’re not entirely. I like being the one to be able to say “No, but I have a better idea” or “No, but I have a different solution”. Maybe that’s what makes me a little bit different. There’s no fun in saying “No” for the sake of it.

I realise I veered slightly there – I’ll try not to let it happen again.

I’m now studying some management subjects through university. I’ve just completed a subject aptly titled “Management” through QUT and I’m about to embark on “Management Communication” through Open University (provided by Griffith). I’m hoping that it will teach me some of the nuances I haven’t yet mastered. I’m also hoping that it will give me a better understanding of what is required of me to move into a management position without ever having that elusive management role already under my belt.

I’m throwing this out there – anyone reading this, if you have any experience with this, or know of anything that could assist in this kind of transition, please share. I’m open to everything. I would be really interested to hear how others moved into their managerial roles, what pieces of their puzzle fell into place at exactly the right moments to give them the opportunity. Because I really want that opportunity.

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