What does it take to pursue a managerial career? Often perhaps you have asked yourself this question because you feel you have a very good overview of your work, charisma, innovative ideas, and a good understanding of all the dynamics that accompany not only your profession but also that of your colleagues.
However, even if you are suited for this role, especially at the beginning of a managerial career you might need not only support at the training level but also some guidance on how to start down this path. In this article, I contemplate several factors that, in my view, should be considered before embarking on a managerial career: from what a manager does to what soft skills are needed; from career behavior to what roles are required to start a managerial career in the digital world, the fastest growing job market of the moment.
This article is not a guide on how to get ahead quickly, because, in my opinion, it takes perseverance, sacrifice, commitment, study, and dedication to pursue a managerial career. Shortcuts do not exist because to quote a football metaphor: almost immediately you will know if a person is not a good coach.
Who a manager is and what he does
First of all, who is a manager? In my opinion, the manager is the one who looks beyond, who has an outlook towards the future without forgetting today, who can foresee how a market might move, who can have everything under control and give effective orders, i.e. not only imperative actions but shared by his staff. What does a manager do? He draws up a strategy, coordinates a team, understands how to achieve certain results, manages a budget, and invests it to increase the economic value of the company.
At the digital level, one who starts a managerial career must expect to do all this in a market that is constantly changing, i.e. where the technical skills to be possessed change rapidly. A good manager knows how to outline possible goals and how to lead his or her team to success. In light of all this, pursuing a management career is therefore a great challenge, as difficult as it is rewarding.
Managers and Specialists: a teamwork
Before going on with my reflection on the characteristics needed for a managerial career, I will dwell on an essential difference, which must be taken into account, especially in the digital universe. In that sphere, you often hear the talk of managers and specialists. The former is the one who knows how to give directions, manages personnel, even with different skills, outlines a strategic plan, and checks that all the operations of that project are completed. To use a football metaphor, he is the coach. The specialist, on the other hand, is a professional who has specialized in a particular subject or activity and knows all the technical dynamics very well. In practice, he is the player. The manager has an overall vision while the specialist travels on a specific dimension: therefore the manager needs the specialist and vice versa because no matter how well prepared he may be, he cannot specialize in all the subjects of the digital field that will have to be put into play to achieve the expected result. But specialists need a manager who has an overall view, otherwise, everyone works at their tangent. All this is to say that in digital you work as a team: something to consider from the outset if you want to start a management career.
Find out if you have the right aptitudes to be a manager in the digital world
Skills for a managerial career
Does it take attitude to make a managerial career? Certainly, but that alone is not enough. One who makes a career as a manager must also be empathetic, know how to listen, manage a group and value the people in his or her team. Having therefore defined what a manager does, I try to define what soft skills (abilities) are needed to pursue a managerial career.
Managing stress. If you want to pursue a managerial career, in my opinion, it is essential to be aware that you have to be able to manage stress: you will constantly be caught between the bosses’ wishes and the employees’ problems. If this is not a trait that belongs to you at the moment, try cultivating it externally, for example by taking meditation courses.
Knowing how to manage a team. Anyone who wants to pursue a management career must know how to motivate his team. One cannot just give orders but must make sure that each person understands why he or she has to perform that particular task. In addition, a manager must always have a general view, which is why he cannot have specific technical knowledge of each subject, so he must be able to listen to the advice of the people working with him, as well as delegate the more specific tasks, even if he knows how to do them, to avoid wasting time and concentrate more on the objective. In practice, he must trust the people he works with.
Work organization and management. To achieve a set goal, all necessary steps must be carried out at the correct time and in the correct manner. Anyone embarking on a managerial career must be familiar with digital tools that allow one to analyze the course of work processes, and to keep track of all tasks (tasks) and the timeframes within which they have to be carried out. In addition to the various Google Suite services, such as Google Calendar, interesting applications such as Trello and Asana come to mind. Practicing with such programs could give you a hand when you have to manage staff. Moreover, this control also implies paying special attention to the expenses incurred, since for each project you will have a budget that you will need to devise an expenditure plan. In this case, you will have to know how to use tools that also allow you to understand how much your investments have monetized, since this is what your boss will constantly ask you for.
Public Speaking. A manager speaks a lot in public because his life will consist of meetings. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to speak in front of many people, both when it comes to explaining to the bosses what strategy he intends to adopt and when he has to explain to his team why it is necessary to do so to achieve a certain objective.
Problem-solving. Your management career will be full of problems to solve. If you are leading a team, they will often ask you for the right advice to get on with the job. How to do this? Try to be decisive in solving but not necessarily hasty; if time allows, take your time. But don’t be afraid to ask, either: for an employee who asks for advice, maybe there is a specialist who has a solution. Remember that you are the coach of a team, not a factotum with a hundred arms. Ultimately, anyone embarking on a managerial career must have a mindset predisposed to novelty, where each problem can become an opportunity.
Willingness to listen. Whoever has a managerial position of significance cannot just delegate tasks, but must understand the conformity of his team well, since he will not always be able to choose directly, understand what each person’s problems are, and value each employee. Beware, however, once you have completed your managerial career, you must realize that you are now no longer the player, but the coach. What does that mean? Firstly, every question you are asked must be followed by an answer; secondly, those who order you around are often disliked, even if they are compliant and considerate towards their team. There will be people who admire you, but others who will criticize you, if only out of envy. In that case: plug your ears and don’t take it personally.
Initiate a managerial career in digital marketing
How to start a managerial career
Maybe at this point in the article, you are thinking: ”I have all these skills, so I want to make a career and I want it now”. It doesn’t work like that, a managerial career takes perseverance, dedication, and study. After all, to develop that outlook toward the future that every successful manager must possess, you need to be able to build a well-structured career. Below are the steps that, in my opinion, are necessary for a meaningful managerial career.
To embark on a management career you have to study. In my opinion, you have to get a glimpse of the field in which you want to work, for example in digital, starting from that you have to know all the subjects that make up your field, and then you have to build strategies that can estimate the results, choices, and prospects of each tool. So if you intend to start a managerial career in digital marketing, I recommend choosing a course or a full certification right from the start, so that you have all the general notions you need for your professionalism. This is because you will need to have all the skills necessary to devise effective strategies, and you will also have to have in mind what tasks need to be performed, although it will then be essential to delegate them to each member of your team. For example, if you are interested in the world of E-Commerce, you cannot only study Seo, Visual Marketing or Sales Techniques but find and attend an E-Commerce manager certification, to obtain a broadened knowledge of the whole field.
Moreover, a managerial career never ends. So once you become a manager of a company, you cannot enjoy your well-deserved promotion and stop studying. Because whoever holds the reins has to look ahead, knowing very well what is new and what the market might be heading towards. To do this you need continuous refresher courses and constant information: only by knowing new case histories and new methodologies will it be possible to imagine ideas that could improve your company. Finally, in my opinion, a bit of history could also be useful: knowing the way of thinking of great managers of the past, could help you to grasp the secrets of their managerial experience, helping you to acquire a winning mindset.
Find out how to train yourself and launch a managerial career in the digital world
Starting from scratch
You can’t become the digital manager of the biggest company straight away. First of all, years of experience will be required for such a role, then the pressure you will have to bear is as heavy as the budget of the company you work for. Start small. In my opinion, to embark on a managerial career you don’t necessarily have to be at the top of a multinational company right away; on the contrary, the Digital Manager of a small company will have even more opportunity to ‘get his hands dirty’ with direct work. Initially, he will not only be a manager but also a specialist in certain professions, he will therefore have to perform the task himself, understanding what the direct and indirect problems might be. All great coaches come from the periphery, where the pressure is less, but still, you have to be able to manage the team and be able to win. Starting from the bottom, you can gain managerial experience that is meaningful, i.e. expendable in other contexts, such as mid- and top-level companies.
No one is born a manager. To embark on a management career, you need to work your way up and try out in the field the different professions that you will achieve one day. So if you are taking your first steps within a company and are interested in starting a managerial career there, you must be prepared to work hard at solving problems, finding solutions, and deepening your knowledge of what is most needed for your career. Mind you, I am not saying to be a workaholic to show the bosses how good you are: working a lot will allow you to learn more about both the company and the market you are working for.
Finally, during a management career, you need to know how to tell about your skills and your achievements. Doing without knowing how to tell them will hardly allow you to advance in your role: in practice, the bosses need to know that it was yours, that brilliant idea that saved the project. This does not mean that you have to stalk them in the corridors of the offices, to point out all the tasks performed during the day, but perhaps propose the use of final reports, so that you can identify all the achievements, including those in which you participated.
To develop a good managerial career, it is important to do personal branding, i.e. to be able to valorize qualities, knowledge, and work experience, as well as to create around you a work network of people who are aware of your professional value, and who are therefore ready to entrust you with important tasks, precisely because they trust your abilities. This can be achieved with time and hard work. But also with the knowledge that you are not only surrounded by competitors but also by other colleagues and people who, like everyone else, are struggling to advance their careers. Ultimately, don’t deny help to those who might need it, while in the first instance, this might seem like the right move to saw off a competitor’s legs, a negative action could have repercussions on your management career. Karma exists and takes revenge when you least expect it. Finally learn to make good use of Linkedin, one of the most effective networking tools, the digital marketplace where all professionals in each sector meet each other, which is widely used specifically in the digital marketplace.
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A career in digital management
To start a managerial career in digital marketing, you first need to understand in which field you want to work, as this world is becoming more and more vast. In this respect, there are two possibilities for starting a managerial career in digital: the first is to become a manager with an all-around knowledge of everything that revolves around digital marketing. This is certainly a long and knowledge-intensive path, but one that can be rewarding, allowing you to become a Digital Marketing Manager, Digital Project Manager, Web Marketing Manager, and Inbound Marketing Manager. At this level, you will be in charge of the entire digital section of a company, so it will take time to acquire all the necessary skills; after all, ”Rome was not built in a day”.
The second option is to embark on a managerial career in a specific field, i.e. in a specific area of digital marketing, a role in which, in addition to having specific knowledge of techniques and tools, one must be able to set up a strategy that brings together different professional figures. In this case, I can cite these figures as examples:
- the SEO Manager is the one who not only has a good knowledge of all the dynamics that implement the ranking of a site in a search engine but must also devise and coordinate strategies that achieve this result.
- the E-Commerce Manager is a person who knows how to design and coordinate an E-Commerce but also pays attention to devising strategies that increase the virtual sales of the site he works for.
- the Social Media Manager knows social media inside out and also knows how to use each of these channels to increase a company’s engagement and trust.
- the Web Content Manager not only knows how to create digital content, but he is also able to understand where to place each piece of content to make each of them functional to a specific marketing strategy he has devised.
Whatever choice you make, I recommend taking time to inform, learn and evaluate. It takes time and dedication to complete a managerial career, so you must enjoy the subject you are going into.
As we have seen, it is not only possible to pursue a managerial career thanks to personal skills such as charisma, the ability to manage a team, and a forward-looking attitude; there needs to be dedication, commitment, and a lot of training. Nevertheless, to start or continue a managerial career, you may also need the advice of a professional who has already built up successful managerial experience. This is because in all spheres it may be easy to lose the thread, not only at the beginning but also after a managerial career has already begun. This can happen even more so in the digital sphere, a work environment that is constantly changing, where novelties are the order of the day, not only in terms of tools and instruments but also in the advent of new strategies that can be applied to achieve objectives. Even as a manager, you never stop learning.
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