Dear Matt: I was promoted to a manager role -- but I really dislike managing people. In my company I can only move up if I'm a manager. I just want to do the work, but can't pass up the large salary increase that comes with being a manager. Any advice on how to stay happy, be a good manager and still be productive?
Matt says: The transition from peer to manager is one of the most bungled in the world of work, according to Patrick Foss, president of ThinkTalent Human Capital Partners (thinktalent.net), a Twin Cities-based company that partners with businesses to solve problems related to acquiring, managing and retaining key talent.
If you can define what it is you dislike and work toward improving your skills in that area, you'll be able to determine if the management path is for you.
"Your company places a value on the ability to lead and motivate others and you are seeing that in the form of the pay increase," said Foss. "There is no shame in knowing you are happy being an individual contributor -- that's where the work gets done."
Foss suspects there are a few core reasons why you dislike managing people: It could be the administration, the accountability, the dynamics of the people you are managing (perhaps former peers with whom you were close), or no longer being able to put in your 40 hours and forget about it.
Kent Johnson, area manager of the professional and technical staffing sectors for the Minneapolis branch of Kelly Services, puts it bluntly: A bump in pay comes with a bump in responsibilities. If you decide to stay in your role, you have the choice to keep things as they are and be miserable, or to look to grow and develop in your role as manager.
"If you truly want to learn to manage people effectively, look for help," said Johnson. "Let your boss know of your situation. Ask for advice or a mentor. Look to read books and articles on managing people. The fact is that this will take energy and effort."
At some point your boss must have felt you have the potential to lead, motivate and develop people, which is a credit to you. You should embrace this opportunity and try to learn and grow.
"I've found most good managers empower their people to be the best they can be," said Foss. "If this isn't of interest to you, recognizing it early and making a proactive change will benefit everyone."
Matt Krumrie is a Twin Cities freelance writer specializing in career advice.