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Self-improvement is free

Question :

I work in the technology sector and have been at the same management level for several years. I want to earn some qualifications to help me make a step up, but I can’t afford to do an MBA – either financially or time-wise. Are there any other suitable qualifications good for general management that are cheaper and maybe don’t take so long?

Posted by Xerces on Saturday, 25 Oct 2014

Comments :

While I agree that earning a higher education qualification may improve your chances of being promoted, this is not the most important step. It seems that you are an ambitious person, and you have a goal to get into a higher management role. In the fast-moving technology field, the following competencies are needed. 

First is the agility to learn new things. There is no room for managers to be complacent. How knowledgeable are you in deploying technology to business? Can you talk about your products or services in a couple of sentences that people can understand? What is your value proposition? The reason you have a boss is that he has competencies you do not have. You need to find out what they are and have the willingness and ability to acquire them quickly. 

Second is project innovation. If your company is involved in managing technology projects, for clients or your internal customers, you need to take a quick assessment on how you are doing.

This goes beyond project management; it is about delighting customers by applying innovation management principles. For example, I have a friend who consistently receives appreciative feedback from his customers, as he has been able to add value by revamping existing processes, cutting waste and reducing the time to complete – and at the same time, and making things simple.

Third is interpersonal skills. To what extent do you understand various stakeholders’ challenges and conflicting priorities? Did you have a good talk with your boss about your career plan? What are your company’s values? Everyone wants a colleague who is helpful, assertive and willing to take on more responsibilities. 

There is no fixed formula for success, but one thing is clear: if you focus on your goals, use your resources and network wisely, you will stand a better chance of moving up the career ladder. There might not be an opening in your current structure, and if you do not see that is coming in the timeframe that you set, then you may want to explore outside opportunities. 

There are many short courses you can attend for self-improvement in any of the above. You may also want to find a good mentor or coach who has been there, and he or she might be able to guide you along the way.

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