So You Want the Manager Title?
by RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
As was discussed on our recent webinar summarizing the results of the RDBA salary survey, title and managing a team can impact dietitians' salaries. The struggle is that manager-titled positions are often advertised with a request for prior experience in this area.
There are steps retail RDs can take to position themselves for roles in management and to secure that job with the manager title.
Here are six ways you can get management experience without technically being a manager:
- Lead a project. There is a high level of similarity between the skills of effective project and people managers. These include goal setting, planning, organizing, managing budgets, leading meetings, gathering cross-functional teams, and juggling multiple priorities. Look for opportunities within and external to your department to lead a project, and remember that it doesn't need to be a huge project. Even something as small as leading your company's United Way drive can give you experience that will lead to bigger projects in the future.
- Become a student. Read books, interview successful people and project managers, join local organizations in the management area -- all these things familiarize you with the skills and path to become an effective manager.
- Coach and mentor others. A key element of being an effective people manager is developing team members. You don't need to be a direct manager of others in order to coach and mentor. Consider your core strengths and talents, and seek opportunities to mentor other staff at your retailer. Long gone is the ideal that mentees must be younger than you, and an interesting opportunity may be to mentor colleagues who aren't as savvy in technology or social media as you are. Talk to the local colleges about taking on interns as a way to train, teach and coach other individuals. Even coaching a local kids' sports team provides learning opportunities that will benefit your future role as a manager.
- Perfect your interview skills. Many companies use hiring teams or selection committees when interviewing job candidates. Volunteer to be on one of these companies. When it's your turn to interview candidates, develop a list of great interview questions, practice active listening skills, and ask probing follow-up questions. Provide clear notes with your recommendation to the person managing the hiring process. The ability to interview and select talented employees is an essential skill for all managers and one that can be learned.
- Crucial Conversations. There's a book by this title, which is worth the read. All managers need to be comfortable managing conflict and giving feedback. We all face challenging people issues in our lives -- with family, friends, and/or coworkers. Learn how to handle these situations in a positive, constructive way.
- Create and manage a budget. There are a variety of reasons it makes sense for retail dietitians to manage budgets as it gives you more autonomy to most effectively meet the health needs of your shoppers and at the same time impact the bottom line at your retailer. If you don't currently have budget control, submit a proposal to your manager, justifying why it makes sense. Alternatively, offer to develop and manage the budget for your boss. Often, this is the least favorite part of his/her job, and he/she would be happy to have someone take on this responsibility. If you can’t convince your boss to let go of the budgeting responsibility, do what you can do learn more about finance, budgeting, and accounting within your company.
As you tackle these six recommendations, document the progress you've made and communicate to your manager on a quarterly or yearly basis. This action shows your manager you have a career development plan in place and are serious about moving to the next level within the organization.