The skills that serve you well as an IT expert won't always be enough for a management role, especially when you're dealing with non-technical types. Paul Glen from Leading Geeks offers five simple issues to consider — plus you can download a full ebook guide with even more suggestions for progressing in your career.
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Lots of geeks consider going into management. There are plenty of incentives: higher salary, greater influence, more status. It's a great move that's exciting but difficult.
The problem I see for many geeks making the transition is that their expectations are unrealistic. Before taking that leap, there are a few things you need to accept:
New managers have no idea what they're getting into
It's not that people are ill-prepared for management because of some failure. It's just not possible to really know about management before trying it out. The problem is that your view of a job as a subordinate is inherently limited. For instance, it takes a long time to realise that dealing with subordinates is only one part of the job.
Being a great engineer has little to do with being a great manager of engineers
New managers face the difficult job of supervising others who are developing and using the skills that the manager has spent a lifetime applying. Since new managers are often amongst the most capable people with those skills, they feel frustrayed by trying to work with others who are not yet as capable as they are.
New managers are never prepared for the transition
Transforming from a geek into a manager is much more challenging than just learning about what the job is. It's really a transformation of identity. Managers need to abandon the lifetime of measurement habits they have acquired. They are no longer judged by personal productivity or by the code they produce. They are measured by how productive they make everyone else.
New managers don't get much support during the transition
It typically takes a new manager a year or more to begin to appreciate all the things that they don't know about the new role. But unfortunately, new managers don't get a lot of support. Indeed, new managers lose their old support networks and don't get new ones. You need to find a support structure in the organisation for your new role.
New managers have to deal with new types of people
When you become a manager, you are suddenly thrust into much more communication with people who are used to distinctly different language and thought patterns. They are used to the tools of their own world just as you are used to yours. You need to learn to see things from many different perspectives.
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The complete guide from Leading Geeks includes more tips and discussion on how to overcome these five barriers, and how to align your technical skills with your management ambitions.