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So You Want to Be a Manager

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Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a call from an individual inquiring “How can I get into management?”  Most of these inquiries come from individuals that have been in their current job for 3-5 years and are anxious to fast forward their career into something more meaningful, more challenging, and with a larger paycheck.  Others are the victims of corporate downsizings and hope to re-enter the workforce as a manager or supervisor where there might be greater job security.

Whether through promotion or selection, all management jobs require a combination of qualifications that include:

  • Education – training classes and workshops, online education, certificate and certification programs, and degree programs offered by corporations, training institutes, vocational schools and academic institutions, and
  • Experience – employment (paid and volunteer), leadership positions (civic, church, school and political) and life experiences that contribute to one’s business acumen and understanding of both people and the workplace.

So with the appropriate education and experience, why doesn’t everyone aspire to be a manager?

Simply, not everyone wants to be a manager and not everyone possess the appropriate competencies to manage.  Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are obtained through education and experience.  According to a Job Task Analysis (JTA) conducted by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM), management competencies include communication, decision making and problem-solving skills; emotional intelligence; and the ability to lead and motivate staff, to name a few.  These skills are essential to manage in today’s workplace, and thus, required for promotion or selection to a management position.

How does one acquire and demonstrate they possess management competencies?

One direct and relatively low-cost way to demonstrate you have what it takes to manage is to engage in and complete a management certificate or certification program.  Each serves a different purpose and fills a different need, as described by the Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE):

  • Certificate – A program that provides instruction or training to acquire new competencies.  Assessment is used to evaluate mastery of specific learning outcomes that are linked directly to specific training. Assessment content is usually narrow in scope.  The certificate confirms the acquisition of knowledge.
  • Certification – A program that assesses previously acquired competencies with the goal of validating competency through assessment.  The assessment is independent of specific training and the content is usually broad in scope.  Certification is used to differentiate professionals.

These programs are relatively abundant in the marketplace and are becoming increasingly popular due to their flexible formats, short duration, and specificity in developing and documenting management competencies.  One word of caution:  “All programs are not created equal”.  Be sure to verify the credibility of the sponsoring organization and the methodology behind development of the program before you buy!


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