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5 Ways to Get Management Experience (When You're Not a Manager)

These days it can seem downright impossible to land a management job without the right amount of relevant experience under your belt - a frustrating notion when you’re trying to progress your career and are left without a leg to stand on.

So, how’s an aspiring manager meant to get ahead without any formal management positions listed on their CV?

Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways you can get management experience even when you’re not a manager, and below we review them. 

Office Workers

1. Lead a Project

By far one of the best ways to gain management experience without actually being a manager is by taking lead on a project or assignment at work.

Effective project management - and management in general - is entirely dependent on someone who exhibits great leadership skills, including:

  • A high level of communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to share a clear vision and delegate accordingly
  • Competency in planning, organising, and prioritising the relevant actions
  • The ability to multitask and work well under tight deadlines
  • Being knowledgeable enough to make informed, quick, and calculated decisions

Without an effective leader, important workplace projects and assignments are much less likely to be successful.

So, whether it be a project big or small, taking the opportunity to exercise your leadership skills will help you build on your management experience and gain the workplace recognition you need to advance your career.

2. Manage a Budget

Having an aptitude for managing a budget is another excellent way to gain management experience.

Establishing and assigning a budget is often incredibly time-consuming for managers, taking a significant chunk out of their day when their energy could be better spent focusing on achieving their team goals and business objectives.

So, if you have a knack for Excel spreadsheets and a fundamental understanding of finance and accounting - or better yet, if you actually enjoy budgeting - then establishing yourself as the go-to ‘financial manager’ will prove to be a huge help to your current supervisor.

Similar to effective management, effective budging takes the skills of someone who pays fine attention to detail and who thinks both critically and strategically in their day-to-day.

If your boss isn’t overly keen or confident in your taking on the budgeting, however, keep in mind that you can always take on a management qualification (online with us, for example!) that covers elements of budgeting and costs so you can become properly certified and further prove your value and financial proficiency.

Two Women In Meeting

3. Become a Mentor

Management and leadership go hand in hand, so it should come as no surprise that becoming a mentor - someone that your co-workers come to for advice and support - is the perfect way to show your passion and dedication to guiding employees (and the business) in the right direction.

While you don’t need years of experience to be a good manager, you can’t excel in a leadership role if you’re not someone people can look up to - so how do you become that person?

The best way to become a great mentor is to put in the work and practice. First and foremost, be a team player. Become an expert in your own role! Be the person people ask for a second opinion.

Or, for instance, next time there’s a new employee added to your team or there’s a chance to help train and upskill your co-workers, volunteer to onboard or help them along, offering encouragement every step of the way.

The difference between a mediocre boss and an outstanding manager is an individual who inspires and motivates their employees to put their best foot forward. If you can do that as a mentor, then you’re already ahead of the curve.

4. Take Initiative Wherever You Can

In the world of work, we typically find that the best managers are the ones who take initiative; the kind of people who don’t wait around for opportunities but instead create them for themselves. After all, it’s one thing to do what’s asked of you but it’s another to do more.

If there isn't currently an opportunity to help develop your team in a workplace setting, be proactive and take a look at how you can develop yourself while you wait for those in-house opportunities to pop up.

For instance, a big part of being a great manager is knowing how to deal with people and their conflicts at work. Learning how to guide crucial conversations and resolve these conflicts in a positive, constructive way is key to building your management experience and polishing up your communication skills.

If you’re not sure where to start, there is tons of great reading you can do to get the ball rolling and help you understand how and when to address sensitive workplace issues and how to provide difficult feedback when it’s warranted.

Putting this learning into practice at work should provide you with specific examples of when you were able to manage and resolve conflict at work, helping set you apart from those individuals who simply aren’t as equipped to deal with people issues come time for promotion. 

Woman Working Outside Cafe On Laptop

5. Upskill with a Professional Qualification

If you’re not yet a manager but you’re serious about gaining the necessary experience, then we’d highly recommend upskilling with a professional qualification.

There are an abundance of courses to choose from nowadays, whether it be online, in the classroom, or through a mix of workshops and blended learning. This means it’s now easier than it’s ever been to find a programme that will elevate you to the next stage in your career in a way that suits your lifestyle. 

As an aspiring manager, there are a number of globally recognised management and leadership qualifications to look into depending on the industry you’re in. These include:

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Qualifications - These courses are suitable for those across various industries looking to become skilled, successful managers.

CMI is also the only organisation that can award Chartered Manager status, the highest accolade for managers and leaders alike.

The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) Qualifications - These courses are great if you’re looking to gain the in-demand skills you need to qualify and excel in your management career including project management, budgeting, communication, and problem-solving.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Qualifications - These courses are ideal if you’re looking to get management experience more specifically in HR or L&D, offering you practical, hands-on people management training.

By taking on a professional qualification, you’re not only gaining valuable management skills, knowledge, and experience, but you’re proving your commitment to your continuing professional development (CPD) - a process that ensures you get ahead and stay ahead while remaining competent in your role. 

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The key to leveraging your management experience is having confidence in what you’ve accomplished and your ability to apply your transferable skills to your current and future roles.

So, when you’re speaking to your own manager about your progression, remember to focus on what you’ve already brought to the table and where you excel. This will give you a chance to highlight what an asset you are and help you land your first official management role.

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