Making the most of modern management

Making the most of modern management

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Demonstrate how experience and education has helped you perform: We know from research the key attributes bosses are looking for are a strong purposeful approach, innovative ability, a positive outlook, critical knowledge, skills in managing people, controlling costs and budgets and, for building client relationships, a leadership mindset and a management skillset.

Look at yourself and see how you can demonstrate these and similar qualities so a potential employer sees you as someone who can deliver what they need. Don’t focus too much on the minor details of your life in a CV, but bring out how your experience and education/training has equipped you to perform in the way that employers want.

MBA is no substitute for hard experience: What you need to do is make sure that you communicate effectively what your MBA and your experience has taught you and what you can bring to a management post. It’s true some male managers are more critical of females, and of people with MBAs as well, so being a female and having an MBA can be a barrier. But remember that an MBA is no substitute for hard experience, and most managers work their way up without gaining qualifications, so you have to show that you can apply what you have learnt. An MBA says what you know, but you have to show you can translate this into effective performance.
You also have to ensure you are presenting yourself at the appropriate level. Are you applying for jobs significantly more senior to your previous role? If so, are you talking like someone at that level, or at your previous level? Remember your job could be very different tomorrow: We can all too often be so focussed on our job that we forget it may be very different tomorrow.

On a more practical note, there are various training programmes available, but many cost money, making them hard to access. ILM’s qualifications include units on six sigma, Kaizen, lean manufacturing but there is little public funding for training at this level. So, here are some ways to DIY your own learning.

Google is a good start to identify web-based resources, but judge them carefully. Look for sources that have good citations to other sources (the Wikipedia entry on lean manufacturing illustrates how useful this is) and follow up on the citations.

Read widely - avoid the books that offer to tell you how to do it in six hours - and keep detailed notes on your research and reading (just like a ‘proper’ student), then review what you have learnt and see how you could have applied these ideas in your previous organisations. Contact local firms (you should know some senior managers) and offer to come in and do some free consultancy. You get to apply what you have learnt about, they get a free consultant and in a few weeks, at most, you will have built up your CV by both your learning and your application.

Ability in role matters more than age: It’s worth considering why we think age is so associated with managerial responsibility. What really matters is ability in the role - that’s how you earn respect. So remember all the basics about management and ask questions and listen to the answers. If people on your team are older they may have more experience and be really worth listening to or they may have had the same experience again and again, so learn to spot the difference. Be honest. If you don’t know, say you don’t know and ask them if they do to use their experience. Equally, be confident about where you (the team and the organisation) are going.

Turn leadership skills and company knowledge into a management role: Everyone has to start somewhere. Start by thinking about all the things you have done that involved you in leadership as well as management tasks. Some research we did last year showed how important it was for successful leaders and managers that they started young. You may not think that what you did at school or in the scouts or guides is important, but it shows what you are capable of. When you organised the school fete, you were a manager. When you captained the five-a-side team, you were a leader.

When it comes to your working life, identify not just what you have done that is managerial but also what you achieved for your employer and what you learnt from doing it, both about the role itself and about yourself and your strength and weaknesses.

Good employers want managers who are able to learn from their successes and their failures, so if it didn’t work out perfectly, don’t pretend that it did but think what went wrong and what you would do differently in future.

Also, make sure you know everything you can about the organisation, its market, its position in that market and its overall strategy. Even if it’s your current employer, there may well be things happening you don’t know about, so find out as much as you can. That way you can demonstrate your ability to research and analyse data, and think strategically - in other words that you have the potential to be a successful manager.

Apply for any job which takes your interest: It is hard to say whether you would be better off in professional services, digital media or elsewhere, but there is nothing stopping you from applying to any job that takes your interest. Our recent Delivering in a Downturn research report, found that the key characteristics employers are looking for from managers in the current climate are a strong purposeful approach, innovation and creativity and a positive mindset. In terms of skills, they are looking for the ability to manage people, control costs and build client relationships. When updating your CV, you should take care to highlight how you bring these core skills and characteristics to the role in question.

Be open-minded in your job search: Another research report Bouncing Back - Attitudes to Unemployment found that newly-redundant workers have a window of six months before their unemployed status begins to count against them in the jobs market. We’d advise you to not be too fussy in the current climate and maybe consider roles that are in a completely new sector, perhaps paying less than you might otherwise hope for.

Be consistent and fair when managing a team you used to be part of: This is a common challenge faced by many managers. It frequently occurs when someone steps into a line management role for the first time. It is important to recognise and acknowledge that things are different now. It will be helpful to consider whether there are clear signs to your former co-workers that you are now in a new role, for example if you have moved to a new office.

To reinforce the fact that you are now in a new role, you will need to consider what tasks should now be delegated to others. To help build respect it will be important to become valued by your team members for the role you perform as a manager. This will take time, especially if others feel they should have been promoted rather than you.

Present job hopping as continued professional development: If you are actively looking for a new role, it could be helpful to consider how your frequent changing of jobs could impact at both the CV review stage and then during the interview stage.
The business world is rapidly changing, so in many industries roles only have a short shelf-life anyway. Equally, other sectors experience less change in the roles and skills required. Hence it could be worth considering whether you are more suited to a particular industry sector where frequently job changes do not raise significant concern.

For some each job move comes with the aim of continually improving themselves. A commitment to life-long learning and continuing professional development (CPD) are often highly valued by an employer - in your CV it may then be beneficial to emphasise the skills you would bring to the role.

Demonstrate your track record of using these skills to deliver business results, without over emphasising the range of jobs taken to build this track record. At the interview stage, consider whether you are looking to settle down in a stable role for the future or are looking for a dynamic position where the overall prospects with the employer, rather than the specific role, is most attractive to you.

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