Imagine a scenario when you take on the higher level role in your company and soon realize that things are more challenging than you were prepared for. This isn’t surprising given how management skills become more crucial than technical skills as you move up. How do you know what to learn and when?
This is especially important for entrepreneurs because you may have to combine several of the below roles.
Here is a general guide to help you account for what is coming next to you in your career. Your career progression may look differently in terms of time allocation but the big issues and opportunities will not.
What your time is spent on: Tasks. The more accurate (and not necessarily faster), the better. Time spent correcting your mistakes by your managers is time you could have saved on your own end.
What your focus is: You are thinking about how to raise your technical skills and how to stand out by doing so. How can you make yourself more valuable? What is a pain point of your managers you can solve?
What your challenges are: Depending on your field, the learning curve for the hard skills may be very steep. For some people, they need months to be proficient. For others, they may need years. Keep on top on your development based on what your managers are used to seeing.
How you can prepare for the next level: If you want to really stand out, think about how you can help raise more technically skilled colleagues. If you’re good at what you do, someone must have taught you well. Break that down and pass it along at scale.
What your time is spent on: At this level, half your time is still spent as a doer now that you can be trusted to do your work correctly without constant supervision. The other half of your time is reviewing the work of others and helping to manage them.
What your focus is: This can be a very challenging position in terms of just pure workload. Your mindset is important here, since if you get catch off guard by the workload, you may feel like a victim. Instead, think about what you can do to make your life easier by utilizing any resource you can.
What your challenges are: Learning how to delegate and raise the level of others should be your top priorities here.
How you can prepare for the next level: Think like a project manager but not just like any project manager. If you think about how to systematize your projects, your life will get easier and easier over time. This type of management is both a science and an art (especially when it comes to managing people) so learning this sends a signal you’re ready for more responsibility.
What your time is spent on: Half of your time is on managing and being a reliable leader for your team. The other half is spent putting out fires.
What your focus is: The pressure is on you now to get more big projects. But now you also have to deal with deadlines, wrenches being thrown into the system and politics just to name a few things.
What your challenges are: Even as you are putting out fires, you want to think about the big picture. How are you expanding the business? How are you ensuring these fires won’t happen again? Are you always playing catchup or looking towards opportunities? And don’t forget to keep developing your team.
How you can prepare for the next level: Even though you are focused on fixing problems, you also want to think about opportunities. A business that only fixes problems is not a business that grows. Additionally, becoming a leader and developing your relationship management skills should be high on your priorities.
What your time is spent on: Roughly half your time revolves around the big picture of your business. The rest is split between relationship management and internal development.
What your focus is: You are thinking about opportunities, especially the ones that have the most potential to move the needle for your team’s goals.
What your challenges are: If you somehow reached this level without investing the time and resources into developing your leadership skills, you will need to do so ASAP. The vast majority of C suite officers fail simply because they haven’t developed a high enough level of relationship management skills. Additionally, this is where you are most out of touch with the doers. Closing that disconnect will keep you in the loop of how the team and company is really doing.
New positions demand new mindsets. Yet this shift does not come intuitively for many people.
After all, you usually don’t feel very different when you take on a new role. Neurobiologically, your body is accustomed to feeling the way it does, which makes you think the way you always do. This means unless you consciously make a change in your perspective, you won’t transition very wel.
If you feel that you’re stuck in this kind of transition or you want to be better prepared for the future, I’m always available to talk. Best of luck!