Q: I am a seasoned engineer. I picked the right career. I enjoy solving problems and analyzing situations. What I am writing to you? There was “talk” about promoting me to a management role. I fear that I would not be successful in this role. I don’t like confrontations or being responsible for someone else’s performance. How do I handle this? I don’t want to derail my career but I don’t want to babysit others.
A: How wonderful that you are being considered for a promotion. This suggests that someone within your company must have confidence in your abilities and your potential. Perhaps you have strong communication skills or manage project deadlines and resources effectively?
A management role does require a different set of skills, some of which you may have, some of which you may need to develop. If you are willing to hone your management skills, then this is an encouraging sign. If you are reluctant to acquire new skills, this also may be an indicator that you would be more satisfied in an individual contributor role.
I consulted Roberta Matuson of Matuson Consulting. In her new book, Talent Magnetism, Matuson shares some best practices of leaders, many of who began their careers in highly technical roles. One tip that Matuson shared was to make decisions based on the capabilities of the entire team. Highly regarded managers will assess the skills and abilities of the team, rather than simply say yes to any high profile project because it may be a high visibility role and/or a promotion for the manager. In short, Matuson offered that, “Strong leaders will often assess the needs of their team members first.” Matuson also suggested finding a coach or mentor who can help you navigate this journey if you choose this path.
You are wise to give any new opportunity careful thought. Not everyone is successful or satisfied in a management role.