The most widely-accepted perception of career advancement is entering the management ranks. At first it sounds appealing because it means a pay raise, and you have the authority to fix all those ridiculous policies you never agreed with in the first place. It’s your chance to make a difference and let’s face it, it feels good to finally be in charge.
Before you make the jump, I’m going to suggest you spend some time thinking about your motivation to be the boss. No, I’m not going to suggest you turn down the promotion, but I want to help you decide if this is really a good career move.
My dad never considered becoming a manager and that’s a good thing. He had a short temper, he lacked patience and he didn’t enjoy managing people. There’s no question that my dad was an excellent mechanic. If being promoted is the best way to reward the best mechanic, then my dad deserved the promotion. But, if the criteria is to promote the person who has the greatest potential to be an effective manager, my dad shouldn’t be on the list.
Managers are expected to get things done through others. The idea of having others do the real work is hard for some people to accept. You have to be comfortable delegating. Sounds simple enough, but that means you’re OK with watching someone else perform a task that you probably do really well. Remember, you were offered the promotion because you're the best accountant, or the best mechanic, or the best technician. Most people feel like they earned the promotion. They will be extremely upset if the job is offered to a co-worker whose work is just average.
Look at it this way: Do you really want the best surgeon to be bogged down with administrative tasks? No, you’re a great surgeon who can save lives and we don’t want you in the front office managing work schedules. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have a terrific teacher who had a positive impact on dozens of students. Should we offer that teacher a promotion and put her in the front office managing the budget and dealing with frustrated parents? No. Please keep this talent in the classroom.
And what about you? Do you have the skill set to be an effective manager? That means you are interested in hearing other people’s opinions. Not only do you have the patience to listen, you actually seek out multiple opinions when making important decisions. You genuinely like to collaborate. Strong managers understand that they can’t do it alone. They circle themselves with individuals who have exceptional technical skills and create a culture in which to excel.
As a professional recruiter, I’ve learned that some people do not have the ability to accurately access their strengths and weaknesses. The second lesson I’ve learned is that it is difficult to find people who are willing to give you honest feedback. Most friends are going to tell you, “Go for it!” How many people are willing to take the risk and tell a friend, “I’ve watch you get pretty frustrated with co-workers. Is managing people really your strength?”
Even if you are confident in your abilities to be a manager, I’m going to suggest you seek out feedback from co-workers. Ask them to be honest and kind. Do some research and ensure you understand what it takes to be successful as a manager. Talk with managers you respect and ask for their advice. The day you decide to pursue a management career means you’re ready to throw your hat in the ring. You’re not the only one who wants to climb the ladder, so you need to be prepared to compete for that next promotion.
Managing people is an extremely rewarding career, but it’s not for everyone. When it’s not a good fit, it can quickly become frustrating. Managing the work of others is different, and for some more difficult than doing it yourself. Choose wisely.