Reyer: Not too late to try something new

  • Article by: LIZ REYER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 15, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Q: I’ve been in my profession for a long time, and am now thinking about applying for my organization’s management training program. But I think that they may want younger, more energetic, and more tech-savvy people in management. Is this worth pursuing?

A: If you’re feeling called to do something new, don’t let perceived barriers get in your way.

The inner game

Trying to make a decision like this can put you on an emotional seesaw. If this is happening, let go, take some deep breaths, and find a deeper inner focus. Pursuing this opportunity is neither right nor wrong, it’s just a matter of which direction will best serve you. Give yourself the gift of time to reflect on your options.

Listen first for the reasons that you’re interested in a management role. People have varied reasons for making the move, perhaps a new challenge, a raise, or the opportunity to lead and mentor. Ask yourself why, and then why again until you get to the core of your professional desire. For example, you might say that it’s mainly because of the higher salary. Is that because of a desire to spend more now, or because you have anxiety about retirement? The same external motivation can have very different underlying drivers.

Next, check in with the inner voice that is holding you back. Do you have factual support for your concerns, or are they just speculation? And, even if those are the type of folks who have been promoted recently, so what? It’s bound to happen if people like you stay out of the running.

Finally, think about the characteristics that make an effective manager and leader. You need to understand the work itself, be able to help prioritize, make decisions, and motivate a team. The ability to do many of these things can be greatly enhanced by the wisdom that comes from experience.

The outer game

There are some concrete steps you can take to determine whether you want to move forward.

First of all, map out your background vs. the job requirements. Acknowledge yourself for those you meet, and then look at areas where you feel less prepared. You mentioned tech-savvy; many job descriptions do call for some level of computer skills. However, reasonably speaking, any issues would be addressed to your IT group. If your skills hold you back now or you wouldn’t be able to train a new team member, you may want to learn more so that it doesn’t hold you back.

Talk to people — your boss, the leader of the training program, and other potential hiring managers to find out what they are looking for in a manager. People are generally happy to be asked, and it’ll give you the opportunity to get acquainted, or present yourself in a new light.

If you decide not to pursue a management role, address the needs that caused you to consider it, for example, greater challenge, by taking other steps either at work or in your ­personal life.

The last word

Set aside preconceptions so that you make a decision that is based on inner knowledge, rather than fear.

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