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Ask yourself these 5 questions to see whether you are ready to be a manager

Moving from being an individual contributor to being a manager is really a career change, not a promotion.

Ask yourself these 5 questions to see whether you are ready to be a manager
[Photo: Startae Team/Unsplash]

You’ve been a loyal, hardworking, and high-performing employee at your company for several years, and now you’re ready to take on the next challenge. Just as you’re thinking about taking on the next role, your manager announces that she is leaving and asks you if you’d be interested in taking on her role.

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On the outside, it seems like a no-brainer. It’s a logical move up the career ladder, and a significant increase in compensation. But as one Buffer engineer pointed out, moving from an individual contributor role into a management role is really a career change, not a promotion. The skills that you’ve perfected might not necessarily translate to the skills that an effective manager needs in order to thrive.

Before you say yes to a management role, take the time to reflect and ask yourself these questions.

1. Am I ready to be in the spotlight?

You’ll face a lot of uncertainties and unexpected circumstances in your new role, but one thing is for sure: Being in a management role will put you in the spotlight, whether you want to be or not.  As Terra Vicario and Mollie Lombardi previously wrote for Fast Company, when you’re a manager, you might be loved or hated, but never ignored. “People are watching you and forming opinions about you. That means they’re reading your words, actions, and gestures more closely than they were before.”

As the authors point out, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you do need to be ready for this kind of scrutiny. This means understanding what kind of example you want to set for your team, and acknowledge that not everyone will be on board with what you decide 100% of the time.

2. Have I built relationships with people beyond my immediate team?

You probably already know that being a manager requires you to get on well with your immediate team. After all, they have to want (or at least be willing) to follow you.

But there are times when you need to go further, because as a manager, you’re responsible for seeing the big picture. As management professor Laura M.Graves previously told Fast Company, “To manage, you need to be able to see the big picture: How the pieces of the organization fit together, and how a change in one area will affect another.”

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This means that you’ll likely be interacting with those beyond your immediate team much more than you would if you remained an individual contributor. As a new manager, having strong pre-existing relationships with individuals outside your team puts you on stronger footing.

3. Am I ready to spend time helping my team members grow and ensuring they meet their career goals?

As an individual contributor, you are responsible for your own career and no one else’s. Sure, an underperforming colleague may have an impact on your team’s performance, but you’re unlikely to pay the penalty personally as an employee.

On the other hand, as a manager, your team’s success or failure is your success or failure, and this means that it’s up to you to ensure that your team is in the best position to deliver the results you want.

As Megan O’Leary previously wrote for Fast Company, being a manager requires a lot of upfront work to develop your employees, both so that they can perform and feel they’re growing in their careers. O’Leary wrote, “An accidental manager is someone who doesn’t schedule check-ins, cancels check-ins when something else comes up, or prioritizes their work over their people. As a manager, a large chunk of your work is your people.”

4. Am I comfortable with the thought of firing people who aren’t performing or are creating a toxic culture?

Just as it’s important to train your team to perform, you also need to have to stomach terminating people when it’s in the best interest of the company. That might be because they are not performing, despite efforts to help them improve, or because they negatively impact your team’s culture.

Speaker and consultant Greg Satell previously wrote about his decision to fire someone who appeared to be a high performer on his team because of the negative impact that she had on culture. This particular employee, who was a sales director, appeared to account for 90% of the company’s sales. He wrote, “It was a highly controversial move. But when the dust settled, something amazing happened: Sales shot up. As it turned out, she wasn’t really great at selling, she was great at getting sales attributed to her.”

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Firing anyone is never easy. But as a manager, you have to be prepared for the possibility, and learn how to do it in an emotionally intelligent way.

5. Do I know how to delegate?

Finally, as a manager, one of the most important skills necessary for your success is delegating. And as Fast Company‘s Stephanie Vozza previously wrote, there are a lot of mistakes that first-time managers fall into when it comes to delegating.

Common mishaps include not explaining how the task is significant to the employee, not making your requests clear, and not setting clear expectations before you give assignments. Author Hillary Jane Grosskopf indicated that some managers also fall into the trap of being a hesitant delegator–where they are reluctant to give out work because they don’t want to burden everyone, or a dictator delegatorwhere they feel that “having a team means someone to do all the work for them,” and gives vague instructions, but with the expectation that their team deliver their work perfectly and on time.

As Grosskopf said, being an effective delegator requires you to put in upfront work. Being a manager necessitates the same preparation. Start with asking yourself these questions, and they can inform whether or not you are ready, or suited, to a management role. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.

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About the author

Anisa is the assistant editor for Fast Company's Work Life section. She covers everything from productivity to the future of work

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