Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 12: pursuing a first management position as a right career step for you 2

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on July 20, 2013

This is my twelfth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-321 for Parts 1-11.)

I write this posting as a direct continuation of Part 11 of this series, where I discussed positioning yourself for advancement into management and for gaining a first management position from the beginning and even early in the job search process.

I wrote that series installment in terms of job seekers who might not be ready to apply directly for that first management position. If you are and do so, most of what I wrote there would still apply, and certainly in how you would best present yourself as a solution to the hiring manager’s problems. But I continue this narrative here as if you might still be positioning yourself for that career move. And I offer some specific advice in that context:

• Sound out the hiring manager you meet with when interviewing, and then again when and if you are hired by them when they are now your on-the-job manager. Find out as best you can how they view employee advancement from their teams per se and how confident they are in their team member’s potential.
• And talk with them about your longer term career goals and how you want to develop yourself professionally so as to be able to advance into management too.
• I will be blunt; if your manager automatically sees this as a challenge to them or if they are reluctant or even openly averse to seeing anyone on their team advance and perhaps move on, you probably made a mistake in taking that job – if career advancement there at least, was a priority long term goal for you. If you have the right manager for you and for helping you advance your career as your career, and you approach them the right way, as someone eager to help them meet their goals as your path forward with them, then they will at least be open to the possibilities.
• And if you do not tell them they will not know. Sound them out and seek to make them your ally in this. Be willing to negotiate with them, what you need to do and will do in support of their team and their team effort, in advancing your own career towards your goals too.
• And if this fails – if candor here cannot succeed, you should probably start looking again and even if your current manager would be happy to simply keep you on but in a non-management track capacity and without any change in that likely.

If your manager is actively seeking to advance their own career that next step up the table of organization, you can couch your plans and their fulfillment in terms that would address their career goal needs too, as helping them to prove that they are ready to work at that next manager of managers level. Learn your manager’s communications style here first so you do not miscommunicate on this.

• Working with them to select and specify in detail your goals and stretch goals, is very important here. Ideally, every one of them and for your basic goals as well as your stretch goals, would demonstrate for their completion, your readiness for greater responsibility.
• Putting that point somewhat differently but with the same overall intended meaning, you do not want your goals and stretch goals pursued to simply reinforce your standing as a niche hands-on technician or other specialist. You need to be able to convincingly show with them, your communications skills and your organizational skills in working with others, and your ability to identify, prioritize and solve problems and to help others to do so too.

I assume from here on in this narrative and this series that you have found a job in a business that offers the right people opportunity for advancement – where “the right people” means employees who can be counted on to create sustaining value for the business, and to work well with others while doing so. I assume that you have a manager who shows at least a willingness to work with you in reaching your goals and certainly if you work effectively for their team and in support of their efforts and goals while doing so. I assume that you have been able to develop a list of goals and stretch goals that meet your manager’s needs, but that would also help you advance your own career for their successful completion. This next step I add, might be there with that same employer and arise through in-house advancement or that opportunity might only really arise elsewhere, where you can cite these accomplishments as solid, quantifiable resume bullet points. And I assume that you meet regularly with your manager and with other stakeholders who depend on what you do, to make sure that your work performance stays strong and that you get recognized for that and for the value of what you do, where you are now.

Now you get an offer for a new position. This might be that first management position. It might or might not be a more lateral move that would afford you opportunity for rounding out your professional background and skills set with experience and credentials that would be needed for advancement up the table of organization there. What should you do? I am going to focus on those questions, and on questions like them in my next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.

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