Why the Role of Manager Might Be a Mistake for You

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The single biggest career tripping point in the work world is the shift from being an individual contributor to becoming responsible for others as a supervisor or manager. There’s nothing about your work as a soloist that prepares you for the very difficult work of managing.

While the role might mean a bump in ego and a jump in pay, it may not be your cup of tea for other reasons. Here are nine reasons why you might just want to run away from that job offer or promotion. As a newly-minted manager, you'll experience some or all of the following:

1) The Need to Acquire a Whole New Skill Set

Noted career coach Marshall Goldsmith, author of several books on improving performance in the workplace, says “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) Less Work and More Managing

Once you become a manager, the work you love will no longer be your primary focus, because your staff will be doing the actual tasks. Most of us did not pursue a particular vocation or educational focus just to give up the actual work and take on the job of managing others.

While you'll still probably have oversight of said work, you won't get to really get into it anymore like you did as a staffer. If you truly love what you do, think long and hard before shifting to a managerial role.

3) Less Control Over Your Own Success

As a manager, 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) A Requirement to Shift Focus

You may have to make an abrupt shift in focus from yourself to your team. 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) Enduring New Manager Status

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

6) Making Mistakes and Keeping Your Chin Up

You’re going to have a lot of mishaps. Guaranteed! One can predict with uncanny accuracy the major mistakes you will make in your first few years as a manager. Your boss could 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, learn how to own them, learn from them, and move on. 

7) Getting Taken Advantage of by Others

You will be played like a Stradivarius. While you probably 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.

8) A Short Supply of Support

Once you get your promotion, your boss will likely 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, the experience of many shows that you’ll be mostly on your own. So start swimming.

9) Pressure From All Sides

As a new manager, you’re going to feel pressure from above and below. The life of a manager is 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.

A Big Reason to Consider A Manager Role

After reviewing all of the challenges that come with a management position, you may still feel undaunted. 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.

Books and courses can offer complete instructions on how to manage or lead. These resources can certainly give you context and tools, but the real process of learning to succeed as a manager and evolving leader is often messy and trial-by-fire. Forewarned is forearmed.