Essential Skills to Master before Progressing to Management Roles

Talented people seem to have an innate desire to grow and flourish. For many, this takes the form of progressing in one’s job or career into managerial roles. But how do managers get to be managers before their managers? How can a non-manager acquire key managerial skills?

Employees can start honing and demonstrating management aptitudes long before they formally seek advancement into such a role. Here are four essential skills that employees can start developing ahead of a career progression – skills that will be recognized and rewarded by a shrewd interview panel.


This is best epitomized by the so-called ‘Six Ps of Planning’: ‘Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.’ At the most fundamental level, a good planner begins by clearly visualizing the future state they wish to bring about.

The next step in planning is identifying the steps. In other words, the ‘to do’ stages that must practically be undertaken to realize – make real – the vision.

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Planning doesn’t stop there though. There’s an additional, crucial planning activity: sequencing the order of these steps into short-term, medium-term and longer-term stages.


There’s a subtle but important distinction between organizing a group of people and directing them when they might not be ‘on board’ with the plan. Being ‘bossy’ isn’t the same as ‘commanding authority.’ Good managers can organize people efficiently so that they work as teams or project groups, pulling together at different tasks to achieve the desired end of their collective efforts. If a plan and its stages are clear, people are less likely to need coercive direction.

Organizing entails being clear about the different roles needed to execute the plan. It entails being able to identify who is most suited to the tasks required of each role, and what equipment might be necessary.

A good organizer will also work ‘behind the scenes’ to secure the resources needed for the plan and allocate them properly to team members in different roles.

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Managers who see an employee demonstrating this skill set will sense a future manager in their midst.


This involves clarity rather than coerciveness. The beginning point is ensuring that everyone in the team is clear about the overall goal and their role in achieving it. It entails ‘pulling’ rather than ‘pushing’ – leading by example instead of sitting in an office and issuing orders. The former motivates people – the latter puts their backs up.


Again, this is easy to confuse with ‘control freakery’ (the giveaway sign of a poor manager). Control freakery usually comes from hidden insecurity born of insufficiencies in planning, organizing and directing.

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However, a good manager who has competently planned the goal, organized the roles and resources to realize it, and directed through leadership example will be seen as legitimately in control – a function that is more often characterized by benevolent overseeing than petty micromanaging.

Concluding thoughts

For anyone seriously intent on pursuing a career path through the challenges of ever-more complex managerial roles, (such as enterprise project management), formal qualifications can open doors that might otherwise remain shut. A master in business administration (MBA) degree, such as the prestigious online program available from Kettering Global, is a real boon, equipping graduates with hugely valuable transferable skills in demand across a massive range of industries and sectors.

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