Making the Jump to Management - Work in Sports Podcast e116

The skills that got your hired to do an entry level job are different than the ones which will get your promoted to manager - here's what you need to develop.

Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp, Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports podcast!

I got called out this week.

It’s OK, really it is, I loved the feedback and honest opinion of one of our longtime listeners.sports jobs q and a with Brian Clapp

It went like this - He wrote in to me on LinkedIn and said, I’ve been listening to your podcast from the start, but since I have a job in sports now, it seems like a lot of your advice is geared toward people trying to get in to the industry, rather than growing once they get in it. How do I still get value out of your show?

Now, without trying to sound defensive, I explained a few things:

  • The advice on the show is more global and career spanning than you think.
  • That if I talk about how to make a great impression, or how to perform on an internship – these still apply to your world now because you are making impressions every day…and while not on an internship, the tips and ideas of how you should act and show spirit are very applicable.
  • And most importantly, the expert interviews should be up your alley... these are the pro's sharing their journey, lots of nuggets in there that you should be focusing on as your grow in your career.

But all that said, maybe he’s right. Maybe I should focus a little more on once you get in, how do you go up?

So let’s talk about that exact subject. How do you go from entry level employee – to mid-level management? What skills do you need?

Because the skills that got your hired to do an entry level job, are different than the ones which will get your promoted. Get your pen and paper out because here comes your game plan.

  1. Supervision – When I’m promoting someone to a mid-level manager, I have to identify in them the maturity to work with and lead other staff. Are they mature enough to handle controversy, questions, attacks on them and other things that come up as a manager. Can they supervise others and hold them accountable in a respectful manner.
  2. Communication and Intellect - A manager is seen as a resource for employees to get answers – can this person spread and share proper information and be in line with company messaging?
  3. Can they Control the Room – I look at a mid-level manager as someone who has to represent me when I’m not available or on. Can this person control the room? Get everyone moving in the right direction? And stand tall on their own?
  4. Budget Management – if you are a mid-level manager that means you have control over a small team…and that takes budget management to understand financials, operating costs and more. Plus you need to value costs as a metric in your decision making as well. Can this person do that?
  5. Organized – Can this person manage multiple workflows, needs and demands of multiple employees and keep a proper paper trail of everyting from communications to financials?
  6. Collaborative – Can this person work well with others in different departments? So can a sales person integrate well with marketing or pr or community relations staffs? If not, not a
  7. Think long-term – the biggest jump for managers, outside of managing people, is in thinking long-term and strategically. Not just to get through and execute on today’s goals, but to set the goals for the future and hold people accountable.
  8. People person – I don’t promote people who aren’t relatable and good listeners – managers listen, managers help, managers see what needs doing and do it. If you aren’t a people person, get back in your spreadsheet, you aren’t a manager.
  9. See the broader business – as a new employee you see your silo, you become the master of your segment. But at some point, to be promotable, you have to see the business as a bigger entity. When I was a sports producer, I was only worried about my show that night and all the components of it. When I was a News Director, I had to see affiliate deals, public relations initiatives, corporate sponsorship deals, team and partner relations, budgets, staffing and so much more. You have to begin to see the whole picture.

So how do you get these skills?

  1. Be observant and ask questions – see what is happening around you and ask questions of your boss – when the time is right. Pick a moment at the end of the day or in a slow period and say – hey I noticed when you were evaluating that player you gave them an X after watching some of their film – can you tell me what you saw? Or, hey I noticed when you were making the schedule you put more people that normal on during the day next week – is that an function of seasonal data you have? Or, I noticed you put the Astros game near the top of the show, why did you value that game over the Yankees game?  Being curious is a huge asset, if you always have your blinders on for your role and nothing else, you won’t grow. You need to see the long-term planning. You need to see the decision matrix, and you need to ask about it. When someone asks good questions in an inquiring, rather than accusatory way, it really works.
  2. Take a class – there are so many online management, or finance classes online that can help you get a background in the skills you’ll need to take your career next level.
  3. Find a mentor – of course I just talked about asking questions to your boss, which is great, but you can have a mentor outside your organization which can bring new ideas on management to the table. You don’t just want to be a parrot of your boss, you want to form your own perspective. I used to ask my family members who were more established in management for advice all the time. I also had a mentor who was completely out of my industry, but was a charismatic leader – they helped me a lot with dealing with problem people.
  4. Read – there are hundreds of business/leadership books out there and they can really enlighten you with their case studies and research. One common theme of all of our executives we interview on this show is that they tend to read a lot of business style books – from Malcolm Gladwell to Jim Collins to Jennifer Geary and on and on.
  5. Talk to your boss about a training budget – conferences, courses etc.

I think that should handle this discussion – coming up on Wednesday we have a little something different. Last week I spoke at the University of Florida, a crazy huge QA session where the class peppered me with questions. I didn’t have any of the questions in advance, so I had to be quick on my feet! It was a really fun informative time and we covered a lot of great subjects – we’re turning it into a show! So listen up for that on Wednesday and if you’ve missed either my interview with Leigh Steinberg or Emily Jaenson – what the heck are you waiting for?

Talk to you all soon!

By Brian Clapp | September 10, 2018
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