How to prepare for your first management role

Posted: 3 Sep 2019

How to prepare for your first management role

As a specialist in the IT sector, Eolas Recruitment supports many IT professionals as they progress from entry-level roles through to senior management. One question that ambitious candidates often ask, is how best to prepare for their first management role. Here are a few top tips.

When IT workers want to advance their careers to the next level, a question they often have is: how do I prepare for my first management role?

Candidates worry that without formal management qualifications or experience, they may not be able to convince a prospective employer to hire them.The truth is that every manager has to begin somewhere and there is a lot you can do to convince an employer you are ready for management responsibility. But, before we look at the steps you can take to prepare yourself, let’s first examine the skills needed for some typical management roles.

  • IT manager: Usually, the IT manager will agree priorities, budgets and time scales with his.her line manager before communicating them to his/her team. The manager must then delegate tasks, setting individual goals with his/her team and monitoring performance to ensure that targets are met. The need to manage and motivate your team and interact effectively with senior management means that good communication skills are very important. Often, the IT manager will have to decide how to allocate available resources in the most efficient way. IT managers must be highly organised and good problem-solvers. Having relevant qualifications, training and experience are an advantage.
  • QA manager: QA managers are typically required to determine, negotiate and agree quality procedures and then ensure that these procedures are adhered to. QA managers need to have strong technical skills and good attention to detail. Again, because this role involves working with individuals at various levels in the organisation, good communication and influencing skills are vital.
  • Test manager: Like QA managers, test managers must have strong technical skills along with good problem-solving, communication and influencing skills. Highly organised individuals often do well as test managers, Where a test manager is a team leader, he/she must be able to allocate tasks effectively and review progress, directing corrective action where necessary.
  • Project manager: Project managers usually have to work closely with other teams within the organisation. Often, this will involve managing conflicting priorities so the ability to remain calm under pressure is very important. Project managers also need to be highly organised to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget.

Are you ready to be a manager?

Before going any further, it’s a good idea to pause and consider why you want to become a manager. While it is natural to want to progress your career, it is important to think about how a manager’s responsibilities will differ from your responsibilities in your current role. Here are some of the areas that you may be involved in if you are appointed to a management role.

  • Policies, Procedures, Planning: Managers are required to help the organisation achieve its objectives by aligning their department’s team goals with the overall business strategy. Monitoring performance including performance appraisal and performance review are often a time-consuming part of the manager’s responsibilities. Managers are also expected to ensure that deadlines are met, and organisation policies (e.g. health and safety, social media, etc) are adhered to,
  • Budgets and Finance: Managers must ensure that their department’s resources are correctly allocated. Costs must be kept under control and departments must operate within Usually, the manager will be required to prepare budgets, monitor income and expenditure, analyse variances and take any necessary corrective action. Managers are often expected to contribute to the organisation’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
  • People management: Leading and managing a team is one of the most challenging tasks facing a manager. Managers are usually expected to be able to delegate effectively as well as to mentor and coach their teams and be involved in recruiting and training. New managers are often fearful about appraising performance and giving negative feedback. Good communication and careful planning can help you feel more confident.

Showing a prospective employer that you are ready for your first management role

As you can see from the examples of roles and responsibilities outlined in above, most managers need to be well organised, with strong technical ability, and good communication and influencing skills. The challenge when seeking your first management role lies in showing a prospective employer that you are ready for increased responsibility. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  • Show you can manage yourself. Be able to demonstrate that you complete your tasks efficiently, meet deadlines, operate within budgets, take responsibility for your own development. Think about any weaknesses that have been identified in your performance reviews and take appropriate action to correct them.
  • Be a problem solver. Lots of people complain about the things that are going wrong. Work on examples showing that when problems arise, you always focus on finding solutions.
  • Help others. Be able to show that you pay attention to what is happening on your team and across the wider organisation. Have some examples of how you have helped new team members settle into their role. Training or mentoring new team members is an excellent transferable skill. Be the person others turn to when they need help
  • Build your profile. Focus on your personal brand. Make sure your line manager knows about your career development plans.
  • Show initiative. Look for opportunities to improve processes or save costs. Keep track of your initiatives so that you can cite them as examples when applying for more senior roles.
  • Getting involved in project teams or volunteering to organise company events will help develop your leadership skills.
  • Improve your skills and knowledge. Take advantage of training and continuous professional education courses. Remember that there are also lots of online courses that you can do if you want to develop your knowledge in specific areas.
  • Observe others: Look for opportunities to learn from the example of how other managers lead and motivate their teams.

And finally …

Remember that the  best way to find the right opportunity is to build a good relationship with a specialist IT recruiter who will listen to your career development plan and help you limit your search to relevant companies. As a leading specialist in IT recruitment, Eolas Recruitment has an excellent network of contacts, so the chances are our specialist recruiters will be able to find interesting opportunities for you. To find out more about our services and how we can help you land your first management role, please get in touch.


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