Q. My good performance earned me a promotion from individual contributor to team manager. I thought this would be a good thing, and after a month, I now know I do not like the management work and I miss doing the real work myself. How do I navigate this?
A. First of all, congratulations on the promotion – you must have been doing things consistently well to gain the confidence of leadership to ask you to assume a management role. Although you might not love the work right now, consider whether it is the change causing angst, or the work itself? Managers will tell you the work of management is “real work” too.
The reality is, in most companies, “moving up” means moving into a management role. This progression up the career ladder most often requires managing and leading and comes with increased compensation. You have been recognized as a valuable employee; one capable of leading others. For a moment, let that recognition serve as a reminder that other people are confident you can do that job.
Before you decide against this opportunity, consider specifically what is bothering you about your new role. Some of the skills you exercise on a daily basis may take some getting used to.
-Delegation – assigning tasks to others. As a long time individual contributor, delegation may feel unnatural. Effective managers recognize they cannot do everything on their own, even if they love the work and want to, but they can teach.
-Teaching – Showing others what you have learned and how you developed your expertise may be less fun than using the expertise itself. Developing the skills of others to achieve and produce will result in your own success and theirs.
-Accountability – managers are tasked with the deliverables of their team. To do that, you must hold people accountable who used to be colleagues.
-Isolation – managing might make you feel separate, especially if you liked working in a team. As a team leader, you don’t need to be isolated. Modern leaders are part of the team, communicate with their team constantly, and choose a collaborative leadership style.
After reviewing these skills, talk to your own manager. Would you be interested in management if training and coaching was available to help you make the transition to the new role?
You may decide instead to remain an individual contributor at this time. If so, your conversation with your manager needs to be about the organizational culture and structure, the career path alternatives for an individual contributor, and the matching compensation.
Not everyone needs to be a manager, or should, but every manager needs help leaning how to be good at it.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners