Management Career Paths

A Guide to Finding What You Need, Based on Where You Are in Your Career

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A management career path is not a straight line, nor is it the same for everyone. However, they all have a starting point and milestones along the way. Each path leads managers to what they need to know based on where they are in their careers and where their interests lie. Among the many potential starting points and milestones are five levels of management.

Considering Management

You might be wondering whether a management career is for you. Maybe someone has suggested it. Maybe you just feel you can do it better than your current boss. It's OK to think those things, but you have to take the next step of self-evaluation and decide if you have the proper makeup for management. Are you a people person who likes leading a team? Are you driven by the success of the department or the company as a whole? If so, you might have a future in management.

To get started on that future, you have to start taking steps to achieve a management goal. Be proactive by talking to a supervisor or mentor and communicating that goal. Don't just sit back and wait for someone else to identify you as a candidate. Speak up and let it be known that you are a candidate.

Going for It

This is when you have decided to try the management career path. You may have no management experience yet, but you are interested and motivated. First steps are learning about the management job and the responsibilities. If you have spoken with a trusted superior and have a mentor to support you, it's important to follow the guidance you receive about the skills you need to gain or improve upon. This might require additional training, or it might just be a matter of getting a little bit more experience under the watchful eye of your mentor.

Just Starting Management

For your first job in management, it's important to trust your training and preparation while also being prepared for the unexpected. One of the best things young managers can do is embrace a team mentality. Your employees will know you are new to management, so use that to your advantage. Let your staff know you need their feedback and input, but also make it clear that your decision at the end of a process is the one that stands. Most employees will appreciate being a part of the process, and by directing the team, you're taking your first steps toward gaining experience as a manager.

Experienced Manager

Once you have had several years of experience in management, you will have had time to make some mistakes and achieve some successes in the real world. To improve, you need to learn from your experiences—both the good and the bad. By showing that you can build something positive from both your successes and your failures, you're showing that you have potential to advance to a higher management role.

Management Pros and Consultants

As a veteran manager, you have a lot share in terms of professional knowledge and experience managing different and difficult opportunities. However, you also know there is always more to learn. Industries and management trends always are evolving, so what worked several years ago might not be as effective today. As an long-time manager, you can build on new strategies with the wisdom of past experiences.