So You Think You Want to Be a Manager? 10 Reasons to Love the Job You're In
Is a Job in Management a Wise Move for You?
Pursuing a Career in Management: Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should
If you're really good at your job — and perhaps even if you're not — chances are that one day you'll look at your boss and think, "I could do his job." And you'll probably be right.
From the outside looking in, becoming a manager may seem like the next natural progression in your career. It can bring higher pay, more authority, maybe even an office of your own. But that's not all it brings.
Be Careful What You Wish For
If you find yourself wanting to be the boss, there's an old maxim you first need to consider: "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." That's because the job of a manager is not for everyone. Don't say nobody ever told you.
Independent contributors and technical specialists—that's "regular employees" to you and me—can have important and fulfilling careers as non-managers. So don't be too quick to undervalue the professional contributions you already make. Don't downplay the benefits of being a solid team member.
Before you throw your hat in the ring for a management position, determine if that's what you truly want. Here are 10 things to appreciate about the job you're already in.
Love the Job You're In!
Is management where it's at?
Reason #1: You Can Focus on Motivating and Developing Yourself
As a non-manager, you can concentrate on motivating and developing you ... and only you. You control the attitude you bring to work, the professional quality you put into your work, and how often you decide to seek feedback.
Managers, however, must attempt to motivate and develop a variety of employees, including
- the snarky and cynical subordinate
- the arrogant know-it-all
- those with perpetually low self-confidence
- the barely average contributor
- the superstars and office divas
- and the problem performers.
Understandably, trying to coach such a wide range of characters can feel like herding cats. Fun if you like that kind of thing, but otherwise not so much.
Yay! Go You!
Reason #2: Being a Company Cheerleader Isn't Part of Your Job Description
Let's say you tend to call things as you see them and have no use for "spin." Let's say you like to listen ... but only to a point. If this is true, then you might already be sitting in a plush spot as a non-manager.
If you were in management, however, you'd be expected to serve as a buffer between executive decision makers and grumbling troops. You'd need to listen to your team's concerns and try to sell your people on how well-informed and necessary the decision is.
Managers serve as company cheerleaders no matter how asinine a policy or program might seem. They must seek buy-in and demonstrate that they personally believe what they're saying. They also must enforce rules they don't personally agree with.
Managers are the ones still cheering when the home team is getting its butt kicked, it's snowing like crazy, and the crowd is groaning. That's what they do. (Ask yourself: Is that what you want to do?)
Questions and Status Updates: Let Them Interrupt Someone Else
Reason #3: You Can Do Your Job with Fewer Interruptions
Interruptions are costly. All those questions, brief status updates, and requests for assistance chip away at personal productivity.
If you're a non-manager, however, chances are that you deal with a lot fewer of them. What's not to love about that?
Did You Know?
- Next time you see someone knocking on management's door claiming "this will only take a minute," you'll know better. That's because on average, it takes people 23 minutes following an interruption to return to the task they were doing.1
- Managers are interrupted more often than non-managers because they generally interact with a more extensive network of people. In addition, the larger a manager's staff, the more he or she tends to be interrupted.2
- Such a lack of focus is terribly ineffective. Studies show that multi-tasking is actually task-switching. Because the human brain can efficiently process only one task at a time, multi-tasking hinders our ability to learn new information and makes us feel more stressed. When multi-tasking, we also become more distracted by irrelevant information.3
Think about the impact of all those distractions when you see your co-workers lining up at your manager's door. Then smile because you have another reason to love the job you're in.
You Can Stay out of Conflict More Easily
Reason #4: You Don't Need to Make All Those Unpopular Decisions
Managers have to make and communicate decisions that often disappoint, upset, or anger others. For example:
- not hiring an employee's friend
- scheduling staff to work holidays
- doling out unfavorable work assignments or additional work duties and
- rewarding performance with an annual pay raise of 2% (or none at all).
The boss also must deal with the resulting pushback.
If telling people "no" is not your thing, celebrate the fact that someone else must face people's venting instead of you.
You Don't Have to Referee Team Disputes
Reason #5: You Can Choose Not to Get Involved in Office Conflicts
Every work group has its conflicts, often involving personality clashes, resource disagreements, or the need for clearer accountabilities. When there are too many "I"s in "team," managers are called on to referee, whether they like it or not.
As a non-manager, however, you can choose not to get involved in other people's conflicts. Now that's a stress reliever as well as a time-saver!
Well, That's No Fun!
Reason #6: You Don't Have to Tell People They're Not Performing Their Job
Do you hate playing the "bad guy?" If so, you'll love the fact that you don't have the task of telling people when they truly suck at their jobs.
Managers often dread delivering annual performance reviews, but these tasks aren't fun either:
- issuing verbal reprimands when workers come in late, take long lunches, or do not ask for appropriate approval
- delivering formal discipline when employees violate company rules or policies
- formulating performance improvement plans ("get well plans")
- firing or downsizing employees and
- defending decisions to Human Resources or government agencies when workers complain.
People Treat You with More Authenticity
Reason #7: You Get More Genuine Two-Way Communication with Coworkers
Have you ever walked up to a group of people and they suddenly stopped talking? That happens when you're the boss, as there's an invisible social veil dividing management from those being managed.
Managers control workers' rewards, punishments, and working conditions so they aren't as likely to receive transparent feedback about themselves. It can be like walking around with your fly unzipped—others surely notice, but few have the gumption to come right out and tell you. Underlings also tend to be less casual with their humor and language around the boss.
As a non-manager, however, you enjoy communication with your co-workers that is more raw and authentic. You won't need to wonder whether your co-workers consider you funny, smart, an idea thief, or an annoying jackwagon. They'll quickly let you know. What's not to love about honest, authentic communication?
You're Not Sandwiched in the Middle
Reason #8: Your Behavior Is Probably Less Scrutinized
There's an old saying that "Employees join companies but leave managers." Everybody's watching the manager, who is sandwiched between the team he manages and multiple layers of executives.
With greater visibility in the organization, the boss is obligated to lead by example. Therefore, his behavior receives greater scrutiny.
Subordinates watch for signs of the boss' moods and take note of any off-handed comments. They assign meaning to their manager's preferences and second-guess his decisions.
At the same time, executives expect the manager to be super-available. They require that he run his department under a "do more with less" strategy. (And then when problems arise with turnover, quality, and productivity, they express genuine surprise, followed by "fix it" directives.)
However, as a non-manager, you can probably slip by more easily with an occasional bad day. You can make a remark without having others dissect its hidden meaning. You can mind your own business and have others mind theirs. Sometimes being less visible is best!
Psst! Find a Job You Enjoy
Reason #9: You Can Be Friends with Whomever You Want
As a non-manager, you enjoy greater latitude to form relationships with whomever you want. That's not necessarily so with managers.
One of the toughest challenges of becoming a manager can be establishing professional boundaries with employees you manage, especially when your subordinates used to be your fellow teammates and friends. Managers must be mindful of perceptions of favoritism—both voiced and whispered. Typically, they must also abide by company guidelines that prohibit bosses from dating those in their chain of command.
Becoming the boss involves a voluntary trade of increased restrictions on personal relationships and how you spend your time in exchange for additional income and organizational authority. If this is not a tradeoff you want to make, then it's a good reason to love the job you're in!
Do You Love Details or Big Picture Thinking?
Reason #10: You Can Develop Subject Matter Expertise Diving into the Details
In a sense, there are two kinds of people—people who prefer "big picture thinking" and those who like to wade waist deep into the details then roll around there.
Not everyone has the patience, focus, or ability to become an authority in their knowledge area. Managers' focus is on the wider picture. They get work done through others. With a wider organizational reach, they must coordinate so many competing priorities that they usually cannot afford to dwell on specifics. (That's what delegation is for.)
For independent contributors, it's a different story. You can become a subject matter expert (SME) by following your specific area of interest to the far reaches of professional knowledge. You can become the respected "go-to" person on a given subject while developing a strong sense of ownership in your work.
And because of the good ol' laws of supply and demand, oftentimes you can get paid decently to do what you already enjoy. That's definitely worth loving!
Whether you're a technical expert, a consultant, or a creative, you don't need to be a manager to succeed or be happy. And you don't need to be the boss to be a leader.
7 Signs You'll Enjoy a Career in Management
You may enjoy management if ...
1. You neither avoid interpersonal conflict nor behave like you have something to prove.
2. You don't mind interruptions.
3. You enjoy engaging others and providing them with needed direction, support, and advice.
4. Even if you do not personally agree with them, your don't shy away from enforcing rules or policies.
5. You communicate succinctly. You're good at explaining to a variety of audiences.
6. You can persuade others and motivate them to action.
7. You're a "big picture" rather than a detail-oriented thinker.
Still Want to Be A Manager? Here Are 5 Must-Haves
1Pattison, K. (2008, July 28). Worker, Interrupted: The Cost of Task Switching. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/944128/worker-interrupted-cost-task-switching
2Gallup. (2006, June 8). Too Many Interruptions at Work? Retrieved from http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/23146/too-many-interruptions-work.aspx.
3Grohol, J. M. (2009). Can You Multitask? Probably Not Well. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/08/27/can-you-multitask-probably-not-well/.
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