Promotion to a first-line manager position can be a career-changing moment. However, it may also leave you feeling like you’re balanced on the edge of a cliff. Most first-line managers step into this new position with no prior experience and often lack appreciation of the skills, strategies and experience that will make the role a success. For those about to make this crucial step up there are some key skills to get to grips with.
Communicating in a business context
Communication is perhaps the most crucial of all management skills. At lower levels it is not quite so key but once you start in a management position you need it constantly. From being able to manage meetings, through to creating clear proposals and communicating new strategies and concepts, this skill is one that will enable you to motivate those below you and forge links with those above.
As a first-line manager there is simply no opportunity to hide at the back and follow. Within a specific area of the business you will now need to step into leadership, informed by an understanding of strategy. This is often the first time that strategic thinking has become a requirement and the ability to grasp it could be fundamental to whether or not progress up the career ladder is swift. Examples of strategic thinking in a leadership capacity could be anything, from innovating to revitalise old, tired processes and systems, to being able to manage and motivate teams in an uncertain business environment.
It’s almost impossible to manage other people if you’re unable to manage yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your personal values and how do you ensure that you consistently stick to them no matter what you’re doing? Today, every type of leader is expected to lead by example and so solid self awareness has become a key skill. For most of us, self-awareness needs to be learned and isn’t something we are naturally born with – but that also means that it’s something anyone can cultivate.
In a more junior role there may have been a much more simple outlook with no responsibility involved in changing it. For managers, perspectives need to be significantly broadened – do you understand, and can you apply, the context of the sector that you work in to what you do? How does the latest innovation in your industry affect your role and the future of the business? Crucially, an understanding of the uncertainty of the business world and a willingness to embrace this and delve into the complexities is a key skill to develop.
Committing to ongoing learning and development
The only way to develop skills not currently present is to learn them. You may acquire some on the job but often for a role like first-line manager it can be useful to undertake some professional training. The First Line Manager Skills course from PTP will enable you to become more focused on the objectives of the organisation, develop clear and analytical thinking and become more proactive in a leadership role. Contact PTP to find out more.