I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it! You’ve got this rockstar at work. They know the in’s and out’s of their job and are technical wizards. They excel at doing their job and doing it well. At some point that quality work is going to be rewarded with a promotion, but oftentimes, that promotion will be to a managerial role. It just seems to be the way things go, that if you do your job well enough, then you’re put into a more senior position that often comes with having people report to you.
It might be seen as an inevitability that as you move up in your career, you become a people manager, but it really shouldn’t be.
Ask Yourself These Simple Questions
Would you be a good manager? How do you know you’d be a good manager? Do you even want to be a manager, or do you just want a pay bump? I think that question of whether or not an individual would be a good manager, isn’t asked enough, from either side of the promotion.
Maybe it’s more pronounced in the IT world, but just because a person is a great coder, doesn’t mean they’re good at dealing with other people. Even so, that doesn’t stop the fact that often times when that coder gets promoted, they’ll be expected to be a supervisor or mentor to other individuals in the company. It’s just the way promotions seem to work at most companies.
As an individual who has spent plenty of time planning my own career advancement, I rarely considered if I would be a good manager, I just aspired to be one because it was the way to advance. I don’t want this to be you.
I’m not saying you’d be a lousy manager. I’m not saying you’d be a good manager either. I’ve got no idea what kind of manager you’d be, but my point here is that this is a question that you should really be asking yourself before blindly seeking a leadership role in your company.
Expectations Of Being A Manager
Managers spend plenty of time dealing with the administrative hassle and paperwork. They don’t get to spend the same amount of time actually building things as they used to. They’re responsible when things go wrong. And here’s the thing, managers are expected to be great people managers, whether or not they have any experience or desire to be people managers. Managers are expected to mentor those who report to them. They’re expected to conduct evaluations and provide feedback to those who report to them.
And it’s that expectation there that I want to harp on for just a second. Think about a time when you had an awful manager. Maybe you felt directionless, you didn’t get much feedback, and it might have felt like you were spinning your wheels or missing out on what could have been a much better experience. And yes, that’s the Candyland version of a bad manager. There are certainly horror stories out there, but the point I want you to take is this: being a manager is incredibly impactful for those who you’re managing, and you can make or break other people’s careers by your actions as a manager.
This is something you should really consider before going after a managerial position, because at that point it’s not just about your career goals, it’s about how you’re impacting others around you who will rely on you. If you’re not ready for that responsibility, think about sticking to a more technical career path rather than moving into a managerial position.
The Pressure To Become A Manager
I think a lot of people feel like they have to become a manager if they want to move up in their career, and I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely not the case. Do what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. I’m not here to tell you NOT to be a manager, what I’m telling you is that the world is full of shitty managers who are just there because they were following a career path, not because they should be in a leadership position.
Before seeking or accepting a managerial position, consider what value you’d actually be adding to others. If you’re the person at a company who gets to promote individuals to a manager role, consider if that person should even be a manager, or if they simply deserve more money for doing their job better than most. The assumption that becoming a people manager is just “the next step” in an individual’s career is an idea that I think too many people still believe in, and it’s something that needs to end. That responsibility lies with all parties involved.