How To Become a Manager

Effective leaders can motivate employees, build confidence and improve an organization’s overall performance. As one element of an organization’s leadership structure, managers play an important role in the success of an organization. A manager is responsible for overseeing a particular project, team or department within an organization. In addition, managers often serve as a point of contact between the employees in their given department and the organization’s senior leadership.

Because managers typically perform both supervisory and leadership functions, becoming a manager takes planning and preparation. In this article, we share clear, actionable steps for how to become a manager and tips for being a successful manager.

How to become a manager

Becoming a manager can be an exciting point in your professional career. In addition to higher compensation, being a manager can offer opportunities to develop new skills, mentor younger professionals and explore exciting projects. Here are five steps you can take to become a manager:

  1. Research manager role requirements and responsibilities.

  2. Assess your skills

  3. Set goals for improving skills

  4. Share your aspirations with your manager

  5. Show your worth

1. Research manager role requirements and responsibilities

Before applying for a manager position, spend time researching what to expect in a managerial role so that you can prepare accordingly. This involves learning key information such as common job functions, essential skills and typical salary ranges. This research ensures you are approaching the process informed about what to expect and what employers look for in a manager.

Researching manager positions can include both formal and informal methods. To formally research, you can read professional articles, review job descriptions, browse career guides or even schedule a call with a career advisor. To informally research, you can observe the managers around you, ask questions about their daily experience or ask to shadow them for a day. Asking targeted questions about your areas of interest is also helpful. For example, you could ask your current supervisor how they ensure that their team turns in all sales reports on time.

2. Assess your skills

Next, you can engage in a self-assessment to determine your strengths and areas for growth relative to the expected skills. This helps you set realistic expectations about your timeline for pursuing a managerial position. It also gives you a concrete place to start your preparation.

To complete a self-assessment, you can review past performance evaluations or ask a trusted colleague for honest, constructive feedback. Leadership skills are critical to the success of a manager, make sure you are including those skills in your self-assessment. Six top leadership skills to consider are:

  • Decisiveness

  • Integrity

  • Relationship building (or team building)

  • Problem-solving

  • Dependability

  • Ability to teach and mentor

3. Set goals for improving skills

Using the information from your self-assessment, set a goal to strengthen one or more of your growth areas before applying for a manager position. Ideally, the selected growth area is one of the core leadership skills. Then, self-assess periodically to determine if you are making progress. This will help gauge your readiness and will benefit you in the future as a manager when supporting employees with their own growth and development.

In some cases, you can begin by referencing your company’s framework for goal setting. This will provide structure and support to create a simple process. For instance, your organization might use a tiered goals framework that organizes objectives by week, month and year.

If your company doesn’t have a framework, use goal-setting resources online to create your goal. You can then use individual feedback or performance evaluations to self-assess your progress. If a colleague helped you during the self-assessment phase, they could support your progress monitoring as well by sharing their observations.

4. Share your aspirations with your manager

It can be very valuable to express your managerial aspirations to your own manager or supervisor. This person can provide honest feedback about your readiness, as well as suggest ways to develop your skills before applying. They might even assign you new projects or offer insight into their own experience as a manager. Any of those gestures would help your preparation process and boost your confidence in doing it yourself.

5. Show your worth

A critical step on your way to becoming a manager is to demonstrate to your supervisor and colleagues that you have the skills to be successful in the position. Doing so will give you direct experience to add to the qualifications you list on your resume or reference during an interview. It also shows initiative, which is an essential leadership trait that employers look for when hiring a manager.

There are both direct and indirect ways to show your worth when pursuing a manager position. A direct way would be adding specific, measurable accomplishments and outcomes to your resume. An example of a measurable outcome might be increasing your company’s profit margin or expanding its client base. Informally, you can model the communication and problem-solving skills that companies expect in a manager by speaking up in meetings, sending clear notes and follow-up steps from team meetings or offering creative solutions to challenges.

Tips for being a successful manager

Once you become a manager, your success will likely be defined by your contribution to the goals of the organization. In the business world, for example, a successful manager benefits the company by increasing profits and meeting company goals. Regardless of industry, the strategies below are essential for success as a manager:

  • Delegate.

  • Invest in relationships.

  • Work strategically.

  • Be prepared.


Successful managers build team capacity and strengthen performance through assigning duties appropriately. Use these tips to delegate effectively:

  • Determine which tasks you must complete and which can be delegated to others.

  • Assess the strengths of your team members and delegate tasks accordingly.

  • Set goals and corresponding deadlines to ensure employees deliver on their assigned tasks.

Invest in relationships

Being a manager requires a lot of interpersonal interaction. Investing in relationships with those you manage can serve as a key asset in the success of your management role and your team overall. Use these strategies to build strong relationships with colleagues:

  • Create team-building opportunities to get to know your employees.

  • Share parts of yourself with team members so they feel connected to you in return.

  • Model a sense of humor, humility and vulnerability.

Work strategically

Being a successful manager requires making effective decisions about their organization’s time and staffing resources. It requires a clear focus on the organization’s goals and the ability to effectively align resources to the pursuit of those goals. Use these steps to ensure your team works strategically:

  • Create a plan with clear goals, strategies and timelines to help your team stay organized. To the greatest degree possible, stick to that plan. You can incorporate new and creative ideas, provided they support the existing work.

  • Communicate early and often so that team members maintain clarity about their purpose and expected outcomes.

  • Set high standards while also being realistic about capacity and timelines. Identify the top priority tasks and allocate work time accordingly.

Be prepared

Part of being a successful manager is staying calm under pressure and using problem-solving skills to overcome challenges. Use these strategies to ensure success in unexpected situations:

  • Accept that even with your best preparation, surprises may occur.

  • Stay calm and communicate confidence in your team.

  • Develop a plan and take action.