Sometime after accepting your first entry-level position, you’ll probably be ready to graduate to a supervisory role. And when this happens, regardless of your industry, a few fundamental aspects of your attitude and your approach to the job will need to change.
Before you step into management, you have only yourself to look out for. But once you cross that line, you become responsible for someone else’s daily productivity, their career growth, their contributions to the company and even—not to be overly dramatic—their sense of identity and self-worth.
The skills you bring to the workplace will also need to undergo a shift. On the lowest rungs of the career ladder, your primary contributions come down to one word: Obedience. Recruiters and high school guidance counselors talk a lot about lofty concepts like innovation, self-direction, problem-solving, etc, etc, but at the entry level, success comes mostly from doing what you’re told (and doing it without mistakes or complaints). Only after you leave the entry level do these lofty concepts start taking actual shape. Which means your job becomes harder. While the “right attitude” once meant little more than jumping when told to jump, your success will now depend on more complex factors and more difficult decisions.
Are You Ready?
You know you’re ready to advance into management when you can answer yes to these important questions:
- Have you mastered the job you’re currently doing? Can you be trusted to do the job well without constant supervision, and can other employees rely on you when they have questions or need help?
- Can you train a new employee to do your job? After being trained by you, do new employees step confidently into the role and execute it with both success and satisfaction?
- 3. Most important, do you want to be a manager? Are you interested in taking on the social and professional challenges involved in taking responsibility for someone else’s work?
Okay, You’re Ready. Now Don’t Screw It Up.
Your attitude change will need to start on day one of your new position. Keep these considerations in mind.
- You’ll need to care more about the company than you did before. Recognize the link between company success and your own personal success. If you can’t find that link, look harder.
- You’ll need to care about the people who work for you. When they struggle, you have to struggle. When they learn, grow, advance and win, you should share (quietly) in some of their well-deserved pride. Give them every possible chance to do well.
- You’ll need to be a jerk sometimes. At the entry level, being a jerk has no place in the office. Even when entry-level employees are dying inside from frustration, confusion, rage or boredom, all of their solutions start with a smile. But when the entry level ends, this is no longer true. Managers can’t be afraid to show disappointment, to say no, to place demands on others, to fight for their ideas and to frown. Get ready to take off the mask.
When It’s Time to Move ForwardIf you’ve thought carefully about your future and you’re ready to step into a management role, start reaching for a promotion at your own firm or heading outside in search of new opportunities. Explore LiveCareer for resources that can help you advance within your current company. And if that isn’t an option, the site also offers resume building tools and industry contacts to help you make a career change.