Honest question: Do you really want to be a manager?
There are plenty of reasons to become a manager, but have you looked in the mirror and asked yourself that question? Do I really want that? Becoming a manager is typically seen as a promotion because it involves more responsibility, a higher level of involvement in strategic activities of your organization, and higher pay…..sometimes. All of this is amazing, assuming you also want the responsibility of consistently producing great outcomes through a team of individual contributors.
What are some of the main differences between being an individual contributor and a manager?
Individual Contributor – Play a specific role within a group of people
- Bloc and tackle specific tasks in support of a bigger goal. For example, write the code for a computer program, or load the boxes onto a truck.
- Tasks can be completed within a given period, and not necessarily responsible for the given bigger picture (although should be aware and able to adjust).
- Outside of work, work should not be or most likely will not be calling you. And if they are, it is outside the norm of your day-to-day activities.
Managers – Motivate a group of people to achieve a specific outcome
- Ultimately judged by the outcomes and performance of their team, not the work completed by themselves
- Managers do not work a 9-5 schedule. They often find themselves working if needed to ensure that tasks are complete, and the team is on track.
- Managers are responsible and accountable for their teams’ actions, not just their own. Everything your team does or fails to do is your problem.
Truth – Successfully leading a team can look great on a resume and set you up for bigger responsibilities and more respect and prestige in your life…at a cost both personally and professionally.
Let me sum this up, your individual contribution is no longer how many widgets you produce or sell. It is how well your team performs in the achievement of its goals. You will have to hire, fire, teach, coach, and mentor team members. This shifts your day-to-day responsibilities from direct action to action through people.
The mentality is different, and getting the best result is dependent on personality traits, both yours and your team’s. You need to listen, you need to communicate, and you need to enforce standards. It’s hard.
We notice the boss strolling into the office late, going to lunch with other managers, maybe hitting the gym in the afternoon, or not participating in the day-to-day activities of the individual contributors. It looks super glamorous, but the boss is the one on the hook if the shit hits the fan. That’s hard. But they are (or should be) in the background supporting the actions of their direct reports, developing strategy, and owning failure.