Why the Role of Manager Might Be a Mistake for You

Group of businesspeople communicating with strained looks on their faces
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The single biggest career tripping point in our world of work is the shift from individual contributor to someone responsible for others as a supervisor or manager. There’s absolutely nothing about your work as a soloist that prepares you for the very difficult work of managing. And while the role might mean a bump in ego and a jump in pay, it may not be worth it. Here’s why:

9 Reasons Why You Should Run Away From That Job as Manager

1. In the words of Coach Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there.” You might be an ace designer or crack software coder, but you know nothing about guiding, developing and getting work done through others. The knowledge and skills that ensure you are in-demand for the big projects are immediately devalued upon your assumption of a managerial role. Reality check: you need to cultivate a whole new set of skills in a hurry to stand a chance at being successful as a manager.

2. The work you love is no longer your primary focus. Most of us did not pursue a particular vocation or focus in our education just to discard it in pursuit of managing others. If you truly love what you do, think long and hard before shifting to a managerial role.

3. Your success or failure is in their hands, not yours. Remember the glory days when everyone applauded your work? Those days are gone. You’re in charge of your team. If they fail, you’ve failed. If they succeed, well, it’s about them, not you.

4. It’s an abrupt shift in focus from you to them. Many first-time supervisors or managers struggle to change their focal point to their team members. You’re accustomed to worrying about your own deadlines and your own performance. In your new role, it’s all about supporting the work of your team members.

5. No one really wants to work with the rookie manager. Your experienced team members aren’t particularly interested in training another rookie manager. It’s tiring and frankly, most of them expect you to fail.

6. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes. Guaranteed! We can predict with uncanny accuracy the major mistakes you will make in your first few years as a manager. We can write them down and post them on the wall in your cubicle, and you will still make these mistakes. There’s no way through the maze of learning to manage and lead without making mistakes. Get used to it. 

7. You will be played like a Stradivarius violin. While we like to think the best of people, there are always individuals who will take advantage of your rookie enthusiasm and general cluelessness, to further their own agendas. Sorry, but it is reality. 

8. Your boss is about to disappear and leave you to sink or swim. While you would love to believe the boss who promoted you will be there to guide and coach you, experience tells me that you’re mostly on your own. Start swimming.

9. You’re going to feel pressure from above and below. The life of a manager is much about translating the programs, goals, whims or burning issues of the moment into action through your team members. In many cases, you’ll be asked to do the seemingly impossible with your insufficient and over-taxed team members. Get used to being squeezed in the vice between the demands of your boss and the capacity and capabilities of your team.

The One Big Reason Why You Should Consider Taking on the Role of Manager

If helping others is part of who you are and what you value, there are few roles that offer more potential to have a positive impact on the people you encounter in your life. The work is challenging, sometimes thankless and always pressure-packed. However, at some point, you will look back over your career and marvel at the accomplishments of the individuals you touched for a moment in time.

The Bottom-Line for Now

There’s no book or course that will teach you how to manage or lead. These resources will give you context and tools, but the real process of learning to succeed as a manager and evolving leader is messy. Forewarned is forearmed.