Some people are “right for management” while others “clash with management”. Some people dream of a management role while others consider it something to be avoided at all costs. Why is it that there are so many differing reactions?
I knew that my path led to a management role from the very start and I took every opportunity I could find or create to lead people until I was promoted in to a manager role. I knew because it was what my father had done. I knew because I liked leading people. I knew because I liked the authority. I knew because from the start I was a big-picture person rather than a details person. Let’s just say that this is not typical…
Here are three reasons to avoid a position in management.
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Reason #1: You Don’t Want To Learn A New Job
Managers have a very different job from most of the people they manage. The skills that make you a great project manager, office manager, developer, engineer, QA engineer, designer, or product manager are not the skills that make you a good manager of people doing those jobs.
The skills that make you great at what you do are not the same skills that make you a good manager
In fact, the skills you need to be effective as a manager are about 60% different than the skills you need to be an effective contributor. This trips a lot of people up and one significant reason you might have a bad manager… either they were a great contributor, and so they were promoted to management, or they just didn’t get good at the new skills they needed.
Here’s my list of important skills for a manager:
- Ability to think ahead
- Ability to plan
- Ability to manage projects
- Ability to critique other people
- Ability to communicate easily verbally and over email in groups and one on one
- Ability to work the way your manager wants you to work
- Ability to manage your personal schedule so that you can work more, and at more unpredictable time
- Ability to make decisions for the people you manage
If you are not interested in getting good at these things or taking them to the next level then you should absolutely stay away from management.
Reason #2: You Don’t Like Making Decisions
One of the most critical roles of a manager is to make decisions. You’ll make decisions regularly, every day. Decisions about what people work on. Decisions about culture. Decisions about how to spend your time. Decisions about how to coach the people that work for you. Decisions about how to sped money. So many decisions! You will not please everyone all the time and some people will just not like you after some of the decision you make.
When I started out I thought I could be a manager that everyone liked to work for. I learned it wasn’t practical and it wasn’t what was best for the company.
Reason #3: You Don’t Like Being Held Accountable
Often managers are held accountable for the delivery, performance, and cost of the people (generally teams) that report to them. This means that when your team misses a delivery, you are on point. When your team introduces a bug in to production, you are on point. When your team comes in to work late or leaves early and someone complains, your boss is coming to you.
If accountability for other people is not something you want to deal with then you absolutely need to stay away from management.
Why Join Management
So, by now you’re wondering why you would want to take a management role since it is so much fun learning a new job, making decisions, and being held accountable for other people and their actions…
Well, here are some reasons you might like management:
- Managers generally make more in total compensation
- Managers get to contribute to the direction and priorities of their group
- Managers get to negotiate and make compromises
- Managers have a more direct impact on helping the company meet its goals
- Managers have a professional development track just like contributors
- Managers get to help others progress in their careers
- Managers learn some of the skills needed to run a business
I wanted all of those things early in my career and I still love doing many of them and so management was a natural fit for me. Now, you may be in the “never management” camp… or you might be in the “management sounds good” camp. Either way, take a minute to understand your feelings for management because if you’re good at what you do you will eventually be asked to consider it.