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How do you know when management is the wrong path for one of your team members?

At a former organization, there was an era where a lot of ICs were promoted to managers. It was one of the darker periods at that company because all of the people that were good ICs assumed their skills would translate to being managers. But what really happened was that it created a whole layer of micromanagers. It took a lot of training to correct that. We had to tell them, “Your success comes from your direct reports now. You don't tell them what to do. You just need to get them to that level." If someone says, "I want to be in management" during an interview, I'll ask them to explain why. And if they say, "I just like motivating people,” or, “I like developing people and seeing them grow," then I know their expectations are well-aligned. There are a million other reasons why people think being a manager would be great, and if they bring up one of those reasons I know their expectations are totally wrong from the beginning.

Anonymous Author
At a former organization, there was an era where a lot of ICs were promoted to managers. It was one of the darker periods at that company because all of the people that were good ICs assumed their skills would translate to being managers. But what really happened was that it created a whole layer of micromanagers. It took a lot of training to correct that. We had to tell them, “Your success comes from your direct reports now. You don't tell them what to do. You just need to get them to that level." If someone says, "I want to be in management" during an interview, I'll ask them to explain why. And if they say, "I just like motivating people,” or, “I like developing people and seeing them grow," then I know their expectations are well-aligned. There are a million other reasons why people think being a manager would be great, and if they bring up one of those reasons I know their expectations are totally wrong from the beginning.
3 upvotes
Anonymous Author
At a past company, we would have an annual career development conversation with all of our employees that was asynchronous to the performance review. We would ask them to designate their short-term and long-term goals. In the short-term, everybody wanted to get an additional technical certification and in the long-term, they all wanted to become vice presidents or CIOs. In a big company, one of the best practices is to push cost account management down to the lowest levels of the organization, because they know that they can count the pennies better than senior management can. So we’d go to these people who wanted to be in leadership roles and say, "We want you to be a cost account manager." And the amusing thing was that they’d often reply with, "I can't handle that. I'm too busy and that's a waste of my time, so go find somebody else." Many people who say they want this people responsibility and budgeting responsibility are not prepared to invest the sweat equity to do so.
1 upvotes
Anonymous Author
I recommend looking up the Peter Principle: "... the tendency in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach a level of respective incompetence" My perspective (as a long-term independent contributor) - many assume that a managerial role is the only way to progress their career. And unfortunately, it is true in many companies, where a mediocre manager is more valued than an excellent IC.
1 upvotes