So you want to be a manager?

Management can be a great job but it is not suitable for everyone. There are a few important things to think about before you make a major commitment to a career change.


As autumn begins, my thoughts often turn to the future. One of the common questions for IT professionals thinking about the future is whether to pursue a career in management.

It is a good time to think about this if you've been purely technical for a long time. The coming wave of baby boomer retirements will leave plenty of management jobs available.

But how do you know whether management is really for you? Here are a few thoughts for the curious.

Reasons to not go into management:

Desire for money While management jobs can pay well, not all do. In fact, when I managed a large group, there were a number of purely technical people who reported to me who made more than I did. And I thought that was appropriate. Pay is not a matter of position, but of supply and demand. Rare and valuable technical skills may be worth more than relatively common management skills.

Desire for power One of the best-kept secrets of management is that the higher up you go in an organisation, the more, not less, dependent on others you become. Successful managers know that power is mostly an illusion. The more people you manage, the more your success is the sum total of theirs. Alone, you are just a person with some ideas. The desire to dominate generally foments coups, not loyalty or productivity.

Desire for status There are lots of ways to earn the respect and admiration of your peers. Becoming their manager is not one of them. In fact, when you start to manage a group of people who used to be your peers, they often, although not always, develop resentment and lose respect for you. Management can be a lonely job, even though you are constantly surrounded by people.

Desire for easy work The illusion of an easy life is another poor reason to go into management. You may think that the boss does not work hard; he just goes to meetings. While the work of management is completely different from technical work, it is not easy to do it well.

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