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As someone trying to move from an individual contributor role into management, I'd like to ask:

[b]Which factors had the greatest impact in your promotion to management?[/b]

Here is my list, in order of importance, gathered from experience and learning:

1. Outstanding performance in my current position, including asking and looking for tasks with leadership potential.

2. Excellent relationship with my boss. This includes communication regarding my career goals.

3. Luck.

4. Interpersonal skills and a solid network inside the company. A mentor in management is a big plus.

5. Continuous education. This includes company classes in soft skills and/or getting a degree such as a part-time MBA.

US41's picture

1. Manager Tools... which led to...

2. Excellent relationship with my boss

3. Change in dress to appear more managerial (and sticking to it even on casual friday)

4. Learning to take things away from my boss which are problems and bring things back that are solutions rather than the reverse

5. Prioritizing my boss's needs above ALL OTHERS at ALL TIMES in real time. If some request comes from him, everything else is dropped while I handle it.

6. Reading tons of Drucker and other management texts to get ideas about how to operate a manager's desk

tomw's picture

[quote="VXL119"][b]Which factors had the greatest impact in your promotion to management?[/b]

Here is my list, in order of importance, gathered from experience and learning:

1. Outstanding performance in my current position, including asking and looking for tasks with leadership potential.
2. Excellent relationship with my boss. This includes communication regarding my career goals.
3. Luck.
4. Interpersonal skills and a solid network inside the company. A mentor in management is a big plus.
5. Continuous education. This includes company classes in soft skills and/or getting a degree such as a part-time MBA.[/quote]

I agree that all of these are important, except I think #1 is slightly incorrect. Being very good at your current position is important to at least show that you are good at something. The problem I see with it is that if you are really exceptional at your current role (and only your current role) they are less likely to promote you out of it.

"Asking" and "looking for" tasks with leadership potential really are not enough. It's more about the results that you get. You're not asking for general tasks so much as dealing with specific issue. You're telling the boss you see a problem and that you are going to handle it.

I think a better goal would be along the lines of what US41 said, to start taking problems away from your boss and bringing them back solved. They don't have to be leadership related issues/tasks/problems. They could be anything that is within your ability. As you demonstrate problem solving skill, your boss will delegate more and more to you making you a more likely candidate for promotion.

I think the thing that is missing from #1 is the aspect of follow-through on your requests. Demonstrating is much better than requesting. It takes a little initiative. I was doing half of my current job before I was promoted to it because I wanted to prove that I could.

wendii's picture

VX,

Great question! I hope you get some more answers, coz I'd like to know!

For my two cents.. working hard, working smart and never letting the disappoints along the way distract me.

Wendii

ehyde111's picture

Victor,
I also made it clear that I wanted the promotion. When it came up during annual reviews, I was able to state what position I was aspiring to and specifically why.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Making sure you understand what creates shareholder value and how your business thrives.

terrih's picture

[quote]I think a better goal would be along the lines of what US41 said, to start taking problems away from your boss and bringing them back solved.[/quote]
I totally agree with Tom on this. I think it was a major factor for me. I wasn't even trying to get promoted, I was just trying to help out and, truth be told, keep busy... I got so fast at my individual contributor tasks, I kept running out of things to do. Also, I had been studying business and I started to get ideas for improving our little corner of the operation. (I'd started on a track to becoming a freelance copywriter but decided I wasn't cut out for self-employment--and I didn't like copywriting.)

I would also add, get acquainted with your boss's boss. In my case, my boss resigned unexpectedly, so it was his boss who had to select a replacement.

A mistake I made was not going immediately to my boss's boss to express interest in the position. He assumed I wasn't interested, even though I was first choice in his mind. I felt sad about my boss leaving and it seemed ghoulish to rush right over to ask for his job, but his boss told me, "That's just how it works." Obviously I got the job in the end, but some awkwardness could have been avoided.

More thoughts: Be ultra-dependable... become the person who other departments will go to if your boss is unavailable, because you have a handle on what's going on... make yourself useful beyond your job description.
Be thinking about what will make your department most effective in the long term.
Get the big picture on how your department fits in and contributes to the company as a whole. (This is one thing your network within the company is good for. You ask them how you can better serve them.)

Do you see the common thread in my suggestions? Your self-development list is fine as far as it goes (except forget about luck... you can't control it anyway). I'm saying that providing exceptional value (WHILE you develop yourself in the background) can take you places you never imagined.

WillDuke's picture

I started my own business. Then I hired people. Then I figured out I had to be a manager. Sometime later I figured out I needed to be a better manager. Sometime later I found M&M. :)

juliahhavener's picture

Also understand your company's mission and core values and align yourself with them. By knowing, deep down, where your company is going and where the most value to them lies, you can more easily make decisions that will be noticed up the chain.

I'm lucky - my company's value set and touchstones very closely align with my own beliefs. I can say that demonstrating those things day in and day out in my decisions, my actions, and my words is the reason that [i]people above me throughout the company in different departments who I would have said had NO idea who I was told me later they were incredibly disappointed that they weren't involved in my interviews...and were demonstrably pleased that I took the opportunity that I did.[/i]

It goes back to not only looking for opportunities, but making them where you see a need, filling them where you have the ability, and finding out who can fill them when you cannot being key.

cb_bob's picture

Great question and great responses! Here are my factors:

- Become a student of what you do. Look at every aspect of every action that you do and figure out how to get better at every one of them. ManagerTools provides a great library of resources that will help you with this.

- Look at how your boss's boss acts, communicates, dresses, what she or he does for fun, etc. For example, I learned that my boss's boss was into triathlons. I trained and started entering events (this is something that I always meant to do anyway, this just gave me that extra push). Whenever I ran into my boss's boss, I always had something to talk about with him. About a year after I started doing this, I applied for my current position. My boss's boss gave an excellent recommendation which was instrumental in me getting the position.

- Be willing to relocate. Moving to the East Coast from the Mid-West moved my career ahead several years.

- None of these factors matter one bit unless you constantly deliver excellent results in your current position.

Bob

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="US41"]5. Prioritizing my boss's needs above ALL OTHERS at ALL TIMES in real time. If some request comes from him, everything else is dropped while I handle it.
[/quote]
I struggle with this one. That's way too close to brown nosing for my tastes. Here's why.

I have this idea of the Boss rushing into my office, giving me this hot potato and ordering me to just make it go away.

My reaction:
1. So unprofessional. I would *never* do this to my folks, so do the management rules not apply to C-level people?
2. So inefficient. I have to go dig for background on what's going on and try to make sense of it before I can even start really touching it
3. So unrespectful of my job and what I am trying to accomplish by serving *his* customers

See what I mean?

Now I agree with going to him and looking for things to take away from him. But the other way around really makes me go "ugh".

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="cb_bob"]- Look at how your boss's boss acts, communicates, dresses, what she or he does for fun, etc. For example, I learned that my boss's boss was into triathlons. I trained and started entering events (this is something that I always meant to do anyway, this just gave me that extra push). Whenever I ran into my boss's boss, I always had something to talk about with him. About a year after I started doing this, I applied for my current position. My boss's boss gave an excellent recommendation which was instrumental in me getting the position.[/quote]
Wow, I must be too sensitive to brown nosing but that I could never do. What does talking to your boss's boss about triathlon have anything to do with your abilities as an employee/manager/whatever?

What does everyone else think?

thaGUma's picture

The basic idea of adjusting your behaviour to be more akin to your boss is
1. nothing to do with your skillset and
2. More likely to get you promoted within management.

If your boss sees a 'like-minded fellow' then you get moved up a notch in their estimation and you are more likely to appear on their radar. You will appear a more comfortable fit should an opening appear. Basic psychology comes in to play - nepotism.

To a cynic, management is less about ability to do your job than your ability to get others to do their jobs. As a pragmatist I would rather promote a secretary who is capable of managing others than a technician who excels at their job but is incapable of holding a conversation.

Unfortunately, this leads to a great many managers and bosses who have been promoted beyond their ability. :twisted:

juliahhavener's picture

I doubt it says much at all except that he's willing to work for something.

It also says that he recognizes the value of people and their lives to a productive work life.

vxl119's picture

Thanks for all the responses so far. Keep them coming :)

I'm learning that a great relationship with my boss and his boss is a must. Also, making life easier for my boss and the organization is a big plus.

I'd love to see some more input on the following:
[color=darkblue]Did anyone have a mentor or a buddy who helped them cross over into management?[/color]
[color=darkblue]Is there any promotion value to formal continuous education besides simply having another bullet for your annual review?[/color]

juliahhavener's picture

There is some promotion value to a degree. It's typically not the make-or-break point until you move up a good bit (and if you've consistently shown accomplishment, I doubt it would break it then).

I had a lot of people really take an interest in my career and help me recognize or get the opportunities I needed. When I took the promotion, I had the firm support of my current supervisor, my previous two supervisors, both departmental managers, and our training department head. I had a lot of great advice and I was very open to any feedback that came my way.

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="VXL119"]
[color=darkblue]Is there any promotion value to formal continuous education besides simply having another bullet for your annual review?[/color][/quote]

The value of your continuous education should be showing up in your accomplishment bullets. Not in 'I did this course' but, 'I achieved this' (after gaining competencies from doing this course).

(my little soapbox)

madamos's picture

[list]1. Attending the Manager Tools Conference in April[/list:u]
[list]2. Listening to the Manager Tools Podcasts[/list:u]
[list]3. Applying Manager Tools to my non-management job[/list:u]

This is a very MT focused list, but I believe the main reason I just accepted an offer for a new job managing a team of people has a lot to do with all I have learned from Manager Tools.

Learning to be more effective with my time helped me produce more quality work.

Learing how to communicate more effectively with my boss helped me stand out from my peers.

Learning how to establish and maintain network helped me get job interviews.

Learning how to perfrom well during an interview (without the Interview casts) and focus on accomplishments helped me shine in a job interview. Even though I didn't get the job, I impressed all the people I interviewed with. This lead directly to me being offered a position when another position opened up.

Learning the basics of management from MT helped me have the confidence that I could be an effective manager.

MadAmos

terrih's picture

[quote]Wow, I must be too sensitive to brown nosing but that I could never do. What does talking to your boss's boss about triathlon have anything to do with your abilities as an employee/manager/whatever?
[/quote]

I think if one is thinking of it as brown nosing, it must certainly backfire - they will sense it.

However, if one takes this suggestion as a way to see their boss's boss as a human being, rather than a Suit in a High Position... that could make a big difference.

(But it wasn't til you asked the question that this occurred to me. I have a tendency to be intimidated by authority figures, and my boss's boss is the CEO. :shock: I have a ways to go in this department myself.)

tcomeau's picture

[quote="VXL119"]As someone trying to move from an individual contributor role into management, I'd like to ask:

[b]Which factors had the greatest impact in your promotion to management?[/b]
[/quote]

Like a lot of technical guys, mostly the wrong things: Technical ability and high personal productivity.

I started with technical ability. I had taken a detour into system administration when I first joined the Institute. When I moved back into development, I was able to very quickly understand the system architecture and identify some major problems in the software I was maintaining. I first did a rewrite of a small subsystem on my own, and when that was successful led (as a technical lead/architect -- no management responsibility) a small group in rewriting a larger subsystem. I did an okay job of delegating what I thought was the easy work, and I had some really good people working with me. I cheated, and wrote some tools for conversion, so my productivity was fairly high, and looked higher than it actually was.

A manager in another group saw I had been successful, and encouraged me to apply for a supervisory position in her branch. I did, she hired me, and put me in charge of a group of six people on an entirely different software system. Again, there were easy-to-identify problems that I was able to attack. I learned delegation of harder stuff in this job simply because of time pressure. I also started working on a Masters in software development management at about the same time, and tried applying the stuff I was learning in school to my work. Oddly enough, it often worked, particularly the parts about communicating with people, delegating tasks, and aligning goals with organizational objectives.

When she left, I applied for her job, and got it, I think in part because nobody else had both my technical expertise and the inclination to be responsible for other peoples' work.

So the main drivers were:
- Technical excellence
- Personal productivity
- Demonstrated project management ability

The ability to delegate, and an interest in understanding how to manage effectively have been helpful to me, but have not helped me advance within my organization. It's a bit bizarre, but management is not really valued within the Institute.

tc>

US41's picture

[quote="vinnie2k"]1. So unprofessional. I would *never* do this to my folks, so do the management rules not apply to C-level people?
2. So inefficient. I have to go dig for background on what's going on and try to make sense of it before I can even start really touching it
3. So unrespectful of my job and what I am trying to accomplish by serving *his* customers

See what I mean?[/quote]

I don't worry about it. I use the Juggling Koan and take on the softball and pick up some smaller golf-balls and use the delegation model to move them on.

I don't worry about whether or not my boss does the right thing as long as it is legal and doesn't set of my "injustice alarm."

cb_bob's picture

[b][/b]

I suppose you could call finding a common interest with an influential individual in my organization "brown-nosing" if you want. I had always meant to get into triathlons anyhow, so I wasn't doing this JUST to make a connection with this individual. The way I saw it was that I had to do something different than I was currently doing because consistently delivering excellent results was not enough to move my career ahead at the pace I wanted.

The bottom line is that this "brown-nosing" was a major factor in significantly increasing the impact that I get to have on my organization; not to mention the fact that my new salary is SUBSTANTIALLY higher than what it was in my previous role, which allows my wife to stay home and raise our child. So yeah, a little "brown-nosing" was WELL worth the results.

Sorry for the rant, I couldn't resist!

escuccim's picture

My experience is probably pretty different than other people's, because of the nature of my work and the nature of my boss. I work for a (struggling) start-up. Before this company was started I worked for a consultancy that did IT work. While my position at the IT consulting co was technically management I had no one to manage. There were only 3 employees - the two owners and myself.

We created an application that did well enough to merit funding and we started a new company. As payment for my long years of suffering as a programmer and my low pay during that time they made me a VP.

My boss believes very firmly in promoting from within as opposed to hiring people from outside.

To answer this question, I can explain what would make me want to promote someone to management:

1) I don't really care about how good they do their current job, if they are management material I will promote them.
2) To show that they are management material they will seek leadership roles in the assignments I give them, and deliver the results on time and in budget.
3) That is pretty much it.

I don't care how much I like the person, how I get along with them, what their education is - I want to see them take charge of people and get what needs to be done done.

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="US41"][quote="vinnie2k"]1. So unprofessional. I would *never* do this to my folks, so do the management rules not apply to C-level people?
2. So inefficient. I have to go dig for background on what's going on and try to make sense of it before I can even start really touching it
3. So unrespectful of my job and what I am trying to accomplish by serving *his* customers

See what I mean?[/quote]

I don't worry about it. I use the Juggling Koan and take on the softball and pick up some smaller golf-balls and use the delegation model to move them on.

I don't worry about whether or not my boss does the right thing as long as it is legal and doesn't set of my "injustice alarm."[/quote]

I haven't listened to that one just yet so I guess this is a good reason to :-)

I absolutely admire you and people who can be so very detached from all the obviously wrong (and ineffective) things that go on in a corporation.

I'm really starting to think I am not wired to be a corp dude.

vinnie2k's picture

[quote="cb_bob"][b][/b]

I suppose you could call finding a common interest with an influential individual in my organization "brown-nosing" if you want. I had always meant to get into triathlons anyhow, so I wasn't doing this JUST to make a connection with this individual.[/quote]
I used "brown-nosing" (and my English isn't as subtle as I wish it would) because the tipping point in your decision to actually get into triathlon was knowing *he* was into triathlon. So in effect, you *did* get into it because he was in it.

[quote]
The way I saw it was that I had to do something different than I was currently doing because consistently delivering excellent results was not enough to move my career ahead at the pace I wanted.
[/quote]
Change company because yours isn't paying attention to effective and efficient people?

[quote]
The bottom line is that this "brown-nosing" was a major factor in significantly increasing the impact that I get to have on my organization; not to mention the fact that my new salary is SUBSTANTIALLY higher than what it was in my previous role, which allows my wife to stay home and raise our child. So yeah, a little "brown-nosing" was WELL worth the results.

Sorry for the rant, I couldn't resist![/quote]
The means justifies the end. I understand. I guess that's sometimes what ambition requires.

But *I* would have a harder time looking at myself in the mirror, knowing how I got the promotion.

And I'm not judging you. If you felt I did, I am sorry.

US41's picture

[quote="vinnie2k"]I absolutely admire you and people who can be so very detached from all the obviously wrong (and ineffective) things that go on in a corporation.[/quote]

ROTFL!!! Hardly!

I wrote that I don't WORRY about it. I didn't say that I didn't notice it. I just try not to waste grey cells worrying about things I cannot control - such as stuff that my boss might be doing which is ineffective. I take note for myself and think, "Do things differently when it is me in charge."

My boss is not perfect. He goofs up quite a bit. I rarely call him on it because I don't trust him to take that sort of feedback from me and do anything that would be in my best interest. So, what am I going to do? Keep quitting jobs until I find the PERFECT boss?

Nope. I'm going to try to shore up my boss's weaknesses, and I'm going to try to recognize his strengths, appreciate those strengths, and focus on helping him out as much as I can without crossing that line that says "You are my subordinate and feedback is not welcome from you. "

[quote]I'm really starting to think I am not wired to be a corp dude.[/quote]

Bah!

No one is. It is a learned set of behaviors.

This stuff is not easy for any of us. On any day of the week, the most successful professional gets his rear handed to him and has to either swallow something he disagrees with, apologize for something that he had nothing to do with, or ask someone to do something that he doesn't even agree they should have to do.

That's why the job pays money: It's hard.

Any time I start worrying that maybe I am the crummiest manager on these forums or in my company, and I have those moments when I am pretty sure that I am a complete moron (especially when it comes to politics), I remember that MT is so successful because so many very smart people find management so very difficult.

It ain't easy. We're here to support and help one another and share ideas.

Welcome to "They."

juliahhavener's picture

Awesome. I got my laugh for the day. I may have to print it for later review...and renewal...and, well, you get the picture.

vxl119's picture

Brown-nosing has been tough for me. I learned the hard way. I was fired from a job a few years ago after my boss refused to worship my superior technical abilities. :twisted:

Now I've got that weakness corrected, and, thanks to MT, my relationship with my boss is now a strength.

What I'm working on now is elevating my relationship with peers and members of other internal organizations.

Mark's picture

I outperformed everyone else while exhibiting skills related to management success: communication, collaboration, etc.

KEY: results. Performance.

PERFORMANCE.

Mark