How does the average worker break into management? One of the best ways is to choose a growing company that provides an internal management training program. Here is a look at four workers who advanced their careers with some inside help from four very different companies.
A Good Fit at Men's Wearhouse
Bruce Hampton, vice president of Men's Wearhouse, is proof that working your way up within a successful company can pay off handsomely.
"I was good in sales and got the opportunity move up through the ranks," he recalls. "Ultimately I became in charge of all our stores and was instrumental in developing our management training program."
Men's Wearhouse is the largest clothing chain in the country, boasting 500 stores. "We invest more money in training new associates than any other retailer or specialty store in America," Hampton claims.
"Every new hire first attends 'Suits High,' a two-day intensive training orientation," he explains. "Sometime later they attend 'Suits University" at the corporate headquarters in Fremont."
The next level is a corporate management university. Here newly promoted managers are brought back to Fremont for four days to learn how to run their stores.
"Every spring and summer we bring some 1500 managers and assistant managers together in an off-site setting," Hampton says. "These are held usually at a golf or beach resort for two days. Casual fun is paired with team and spirit building plus hard-core training."
"We conduct workshops in each region and we zero in on individual weaknesses," he points out. These generally tend to center on improving sales, but might also address issues like time management or tailor-shop supervision. Managers are assigned to special workshops focusing on areas they need to improve.
"Most importantly, our managers are salespeople, so the most important requirement is being able to sell well," he contends. "It's important to be a good people manager and operations expert, but if you're not bringing in the business, you are not managerial material."
Hampton believes there are certain types of salespeople who can be groomed for management. "There are those who have that natural instinct and shine even though they have no professional sales training. And we have people who have become successful through concerted effort and training. In the middle we have those with intuitive ability that has not been harnessed."
Noah's Bagels - A Fresh Approach
Bettie Draper, manager of Noah's Bagels in Danville, found the company's breezy management style was a breath of fresh air.
"Most of my career has been in the food industry," she says. "I was the manager of a restaurant in the area and went into a Noah's shop one day, liked what I saw, and decided to make my move."
Draper contacted the company online, interviewed and got the job. She learned all the crew positions and later became a manager. "I found there was more to the job than learning invoicing, figuring labor costs, and reading profit and loss statements.
"The company has a different style and I like it better than the other places I've worked," she notes. Noah's seems to be more casual and more people-oriented and take many personal wishes into consideration because they to want to know more about each employee. "I was able to move up and make lateral moves.
"We do management skills assessments, but there is no pass or fail," she explains. "We use a lot of tools to figure out each manager's personality to fit them with the job."
No Beef with Black Angus
Annalyn Gill, manager of Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Restaurant in Sacramento, touts her company's fast track into management.
"In 1988, I started as a bookkeeper in our Sunnyvale location and transferred to the Sacramento area," she recounts. "I worked as a front-desk person and then field area accounting manager; but I really wanted to get into the restaurant side."
Stuart Anderson's has a USA (United Staff to Administration) management program where any qualified employee can move up.
"Applicants have to have the dedication, willingness to fill in the long hours, and definitely have knowledge about the restaurant," she explains. "Training can be complete within six weeks as long as management positions are available; relocation might be necessary."
Training takes place in the restaurants, where candidates learn all the positions from front desk to food serving, bartending, busing - along with four weeks in the kitchen.
Recently, an employee who had been a server for 20 years decided he wanted to go into management. "We agreed he would do well and put him in the program, and now he's a general manager at one of our Bay Area locations," Gill relates. "I think the company has a good management program, especially because it continues to hire and work from within."
Banking on a Promotion
One of the most intensive management training programs belongs to the Bank of Agriculture and Commerce, where there is no margin for error.
"I was in banking at a previous job and I was hired as operations supervisor in a Stockton branch," recalls loan operations officer Shirley Urias. "I was there for one and a half years when they put me in the training program.
"I trained in each department - bookkeeping, computer, loans, administration and finance - so I could function as a fill-in when needed," she explains. The length of the training varied by department. Loans, for example, required three months to master - about a month more than other areas.
"The company wants their management people to . . . understand how the whole bank works," she says. "When I was in a department, I could see how even the smallest error could impact other departments. It was a very good learning experience."
The "classroom" was not restricted to one bank branch location. She would go wherever a particular department was located. "The most valuable thing I learned was how everything has to work and flow together to be successful," she concludes. "It's requires teamwork to make everybody successful."
Countless businesses in a wide variety of trades and industries provide similar training programs for managers-to-be. Restaurants, auto rental chains, and department stores (to name a few) provide some of the best and most widely accessible learning opportunities. To see if you have the type of personality that makes for a good manager, go to jobjournal.com, click on article archive, and enter 'management material.'
For more information about management training programs:
Community colleges offer extensive management training courses. Contact your local campus for a catalog or class schedule. If you live near a university, look into its regional/continuing education or extension programs. Anyone can enroll to take these courses, you do not need formal admission to the university. Your employer may be willing to pay for a course or at least reimburse you for part of the costs. So do the research and present a plan to your employer.
Popular books on management:
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
by John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar (Thomas Nelson, 1998)
"John C. Maxwell offers lively stories about the foibles and successes of Lee Iacocca, Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, and Elizabeth Dole," writes one reviewer. "Readers can expect a well-crafted discussion that emphasizes the core attitudes and visions of leadership."
First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman
(Simon & Schuster, 1999)
This book is based on a staggering 80,000 interviews conducted during the past 25 years by the Gallup organization. One reviewer writes "Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking. In seven chapters, the two consultants debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as treat people as you like to be treated . . . people are capable of almost anything . . . and a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy.
What Management Is: How It Works and Why It's Everyone's Business
by Joan Magretta and Nan Stone (Free Press, 2002)
"Former Harvard Business Review editors Magretta and Stone identify management as the driving force behind key innovations of the past century and present a jargon-free look at the way its core principles work," says one reviewer. Magretta and Stone invite readers to "Think of this book as everything you wanted to know about management but were afraid to ask." Case studies range from old economy stalwarts like Ford to new economy upstarts like Dell, along with pioneering nonprofits such as The Nature Conservancy.
Organizations mentioned in this article: