Movin On Up

9 Things you should know before applying to be promoted to Manager

Promoted to Manager

So you want to move into Management? Want to be promoted to Manager? Good on you, go for it.  Not all folks have the motivation or ambition to want to move to the next level.  But there are some things you should know before you send that email or put in the application.  I have canvassed some Senior Managers I know and this is what they wanted others to know before they applied to be a Manager.

You have to be able to demonstrate that you can think in the best interests of the organisation/department or contract.

One Senior Manger put it this way.  “There are lots of good employees (and some managers) out there who don’t get the bigger picture.  They don’t understand that our job [as Managers] is to keep the business strong and safe.  They don’t understand the bigger connection to the day to day activity”.

It’s really easy, particularly in bigger organisations to forget that what you do is connected to a broader purpose, the purpose of the organisation. For example: If you need more staff but don’t want to take the time to train them up, then you are not thinking in the best interest of the organisation, you are thinking in your own best interest. If you want to be promoted to Manager, when dealing problem you need to solve, if your answer is not in the best interests of the business then you might need a re-think.

You have to be able to motivate your team towards a goal

May sound pretty basic, but when you lead people, you have to get them to achieve goals for your workplace.  While most people are happy to do a day’s work for a day’s pay, bringing people along with you is an important part of the business.  Ruling through fear, intimidation or with false promises is exhausting, unproductive and time-bound.  Understanding that you are accountable to motivate your staff to get to where the team needs to go is an important consideration for Managers.

Being a hard worker is not enough

Work hard and good things will happen right?  This is absolutely true, but the good thing might not be a promotion.  If you work really hard in your current role, that does not necessarily show that you will make a good Manager.  It shows that you are a good worker.  Don’t get me wrong, you might also work hard at a Manager level, but don’t get the two confused.  Being a hard worker on its own does not mean you will be a good Manager.  Being a hard worker is an activity or an ethos, being a good manager is a skill.

You need to be financially literate & have attention to detail

Somewhere in my dim dark history I recall my leaders talking about big hands and small maps.  This was a euphemism for Managers thinking about big strategic stuff and not needing to know the detail.  Folks, this is a really old fashioned approach to leadership.  Of course you need to be good with some detail, how can you make decisions without it?  As a Manager you need to sign off on all manner of things, you need to be across the detail.

I won’t say much about finance, except to say that every organisation in the world has to manage its finances.  It makes sense that you would have some understanding of how they work if you want to be in the game.


You can’t be a successful Manager without being able to delegate effectively. Period.  It is a learnt skill, but it does mean that you must be prepared to get in and give people tasks.  Even when they don’t like it.  One Senior Manager also wanted me to highlight that “they have to be prepared to get in and give it a go as well.  They should never task a staff member with something that they weren’t prepared to do themselves”.

Victims, Dramatics, Mood Swingers and Gossips aren’t considered great Manager Material

I can think of three recent (ish) occasions where people I know have missed out on Management opportunities.  When asked, they could not think of a single reason that they missed out (or kept missing out). In reality, though in a couple of the cases they were very good at their jobs, these folks exhibited one or more of the qualities above.  If you fall prey to any of the above, can I suggest you desist, straight away?

Time in a job does not entitle you to a promotion

Maybe once upon a time, if you stayed around for long enough, you got promoted, but not anymore.  These days longevity does not get you promoted, capability does.  It is more possible than ever to have Penny who started last week get promoted to Manager over the longer stayers.  Change in organisations is a real part of working life and staying in the one job and hoping to get a promotion is not guaranteed.

You have to be able to think for yourself and be able to live with the consequences of mistakes

If you want to escalate every decision to your boss, then you are probably not ready to be a Manager.  As one Senior Manger put it “it is a way of thinking.  If you are always looking for a solution to bring to the table, if you roll your sleeves up and do the research when you are not sure, then you are thinking like the kind of Manager’s I want on my team.  On the other hand if you want me to make all the decisions for you, then I don’t need you on my team”.

And if you are going to think for yourself and make decisions that way, you need to accept that sometimes you will get it wrong.  Part of being accountable for your decisions is acceptance that there will be consequences for any mistakes.

If you are struggling to cope with the pressure at your current level then it’s not going to get better

I have heard it said, that Managers have a cushy ride of it.  I have spoken about 5 things you might not know about your Manager here The reality is, though you might not be doing as much transactional activity, it is safe to assume that there will be more pressure, more expectation and more work (albeit different work) at a Manager level.  Good and experienced Managers will make it look easier than those who are green in the job.

However, understand that if the pressure is getting to you where you are, then it will only be greater at a more senior level. If you want to be promoted to Manager you will need to work out how to deal with additional pressure.

Managing people is hard

If I had a dollar for every time a Manager said to me something to the effect of “this job would be great without staff”, I would be a rich lady.  People are tricky beings, and even the best of us can be challenging at our worst.

A universal fact of Management is that the people piece can be difficult.  After 20 years myself managing people, I still come across challenges every day.  I still get it wrong.  Managing staff is one of the greatest privileges of being a Manager, but it is also the toughest part of it.  Anyone who wants to genuinely move into Management must understand that Managing people will be the most challenging part of the gig and something that will you will always be learning from.

Know what you need to be promoted to Manager

Photo by Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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