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Climbing Your Way to the Top

The ultimate career goal of most persons who enter the formal job market is to become a manager in their chosen area of expertise. The reasoning behind this is that managers are often thought to be well-paid senior officers in any organization, who are respected and perhaps revered for their wealth of knowledge and technical proficiency. Also, being a manager in some organizations allows you to set your own pace for work and gives you a voice in making decisions that affect the organization and its employees.

The basic pre-requisite to becoming a manager, is at least a first degree (some organizations require a Masters degree) in your area of expertise. Having three to five years work experience as a minimum, is also a must.

What really makes a manager a good one though, is the skills he/she brings to the position. Apart from having a good understanding and technical knowledge of his/her chosen field, a manager should also possess the following:
∑ Good people skills. A good manager must know how to work with people, and be able to maintain good relationships with others.
∑ Be able to think strategically.
∑ Have the ability to think long term.
∑ The ability to view the organization as a whole and see how parts of the organization relate to and depend on one another.
∑ Be flexible/adaptable to change.
∑ Be innovative.
∑ Know how to communicate well with others.
∑ Have excellent project and self-management skills.
∑ Be a team player .
∑ Good crisis and conflict management skills.
∑ Ethical/high personal standards.
∑ Well-defined goals, whether they are personal or career-related.
∑ Be able to allocate resources according to priorities.
∑ Be able to make decisions, act upon them, and accept responsibility for them.
∑ Be willing to compromise.
∑ Be able to organize and plan for effective use of resources.
∑ Be able to admit to being wrong
∑ Good leadership skills
∑ Understand the value of engaging in continuous lifelong learning.
These are just a few examples of the skills a person needs in order to be a good manager and thus be an asset to any organization.

You may wonder what is the best way to acquire these skill sets. The simple answer is through work experience and engaging continuously in lifelong learning. Where possible, attend workshops, seminars, conferences, etc that offer information on your particular field. If youíre currently employed, try to make use of the opportunities that may exist for enhancing your own growth and development within your organization. For example, if you have the opportunity to work in a different department or branch for a few weeks or months, take it. This could be your chance to be exposed to perhaps a new way of thinking and doing things.

If youíre unemployed, you can still gain valuable work experience by volunteering with organizations such as the Jamaica AIDS Support, the Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club.

Itís important to note though that being a manager does have its downside. Most, if not all managers have to deal with handling disgruntled employees, increased paperwork and increased stress, which can be attributed to the high pressure environment many managers work in. Some managers also have the responsibility of terminating employees, which many persons find to be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience.

Being a manager is a major career goal for most persons. However, please remember that this career opportunity will not come overnight. It is going to take a few years of hard work, patience and dedication before you can count yourself among the lucky few who have managed to attain this lofty dream.

**Kareen Cox is the Resources Coordinator in the Career Development Services Department, HEART Trust/NTA. Email,

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