Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

To Be or Not To Be

2012-11-15 09:11:01

Yesterday I went to a recruiting symposium and we talked a lot about retention. The single most common reason people leave a position is due to lack of career growth. One of the speakers, who has done a ton of Executive Recruiting, said she has new MBA hires call her all the time and tell her to keep them in her tickler file for VP positions. Her story continued when she responds, "VP of what"? and the response more often than not, is "anything". (Not joking here.)

I have consistently told my own leaders that I have *absolutely no desire* to get into a management role. I'm happy to mentor, I'd consider a Lead Recruiter position, but I love being a *recruiter*. And after you have spent any amount of time in the business world, you learn two very important things: one, if someone is a good individual contributor (IC) that doesn't necessarily equate to a good manager, and second, managers don't do the same jobs as IC's-they go to meetings, they work with HR on employee issues, they manage budgets, they go to meetings, they work on succession planning and headcount forecasting, they go to meetings, they plan for the next fiscal year, they go to meetings...yes, you see a pattern.

The question I would ask yourself is: why do you want to be a manager? What compels you to want a "management" title? Is it more money? Is it because you really enjoy developing employees? Do you want to be a strategic part of your company's growth? Is it because it seems natural that more responsibility equals a "manager" title?

The only question with a "yes" answer that would be valid among those listed above is "developing employees". But remember that "developing" includes hiring, firing, and performance management (ie evaluating each of your direct reports every year and dealing with underperformers or any other issues). If you are a hiring manager, part of growing your team and business includes writing job descriptions, managing your headcount budget, dealing with internal equity, providing training and opportunities for growth, and spending a significant amount of time working with recruiting-reviewing resumes, conducting phone screens, interviewing, working with compensation to make sure that your team has internal compensation equity.

Management also includes significant amounts of reporting to your superiors, politicking, operational procedures, interacting with other team stakeholders on projects as well as working on future-looking projects and initiatives. This may or may not be in addition to also being a contributing member of your team. Think of a brand retail store manager. S/he does all the scheduling, orders supplies, goes over all the financial transactions, deals with customer issues, interfaces with HQ/Divisional management, makes sure all associates are up to date and trained, does all the interviewing/hiring/firing, conducts all HR functions, AND generally also sells and has their own sales goals which may or may not be tied to the store's numbers. Managers get paid more, but they certainly work much longer hours.

Obviously, managers are necessary in today's business world, and some people are great leaders. But if you say you want to get "into management" and don't know everything that will entail, you might want to think on your career trajectory. If you love your profession and the day-to-day activities, "management" may actually make you hate your job. And the truth of the matter is that in most companies, if someone is promoted into "management" and it turns out they aren't good at it the transition can have a detrimental effect on longer-term career opportunities. When you move on to a new company, you will be asked, "so I see you were a manager at XYZ company; this is an individual role, why are you looking to take a step backwards in your career?" Fair or not, stepping OUT of a management role is seen as a backward step. This isn't true of every company in every industry, but it is common enough that you should think very carefully about getting onto the "management track".

Industry Profiles - Marketing
Understanding Your Audience

Jay: Re: - To Be or Not To Be
2012-11-15 11:17:36

you nailed it. I have run practices of 200 people and one of the big realities is if you are going to be a good manager requires an enormous investment. I have found that I can make more money, still wield as much influence internally and externally as an indivdual contributor. BTW, I am helathier and happier managing myself and worrying about my loved ones.

Kristen Fife: Re: - To Be or Not To Be
2012-11-15 11:58:33

Thanks Jay. A lot of people coming out of college (and specifically MBA programs) think that the management track is the only way to have a successful career. It's very unfortunate and I hope to help some people think strategically about their careers.

Comment on this blog
Your name:

Your email (will not be displayed):



Enter the text above to help us filter spam:

This article also appears on
Human Resources