How can I decide if I'm management material?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My boss, who I'll call H., gave notice a couple days ago. He's moving on to a similar position, but with broader scope, at a similar company, so it's a step up for him.
I mentioned this to some people, including my mother, who asked me if I was planning to apply for the job. I honestly hadn't thought about it, and told her so. She said not to sell myself short, and that I'd make a good manager, even though "management has its challenges." (She's recently retired, but was a manager in a different field for 30-35 years.) I mentioned the idea to my girlfriend (no management experience), and she said I'd make a good manager as well, saying that I'm honest, fair-minded, and committed.
I had never entertained the thought of moving into management, because I never thought of myself as particularly being a "people person", and because I don't relish the idea of having to be the bad guy upon occasion. (And I most definitely do not want to be two-faced, but would have to resist the temptation to tell people what they want to hear or at the least put the best spin on everything.)
However: I've been told repeatedly that, despite my protests, I am a people person. I also have sold myself short before, and after being pushed/goaded/convinced, have gone on to succeed in ways I didn't think were possible. So I may be overly harsh in evaluating myself, or I may be clear-eyed. I just don't know.
Lots of background, because I'm posting this anonymously:
Our department has a bunch of people (maybe 20) that all do the same thing -- something that is moderately technical and hard to describe without getting into specifics. (There's a creativity/problem-solving component to it as well. I'd say it's roughly analogous to technical writing.) I'm one of these twenty.
I report to H., who is the department manager and who's the guy who's leaving. He does the budget, hires and fires, does some scheduling of the day-to-day/hour-to-hour operations, goes to department and division meetings, does performance reviews, and for all I know a bunch more stuff.
There's also a supervisor, who I'll call K. K. does the bulk of the day-to-day/hour-to-hour operations and scheduling. He has input on things like budgets, hiring decisions, and performance reviews, but he also reports to H. K. is the person who sets my daily schedule, decides which projects I (and the rest of the twenty) will be working on, et cetera. I've filled in for K. a few times -- not as much as some other co-workers of mine -- and was told I did a very good job. I enjoyed it, but it was challenging -- solving rapidly changing logistical problems while people kept coming up to you and asking you unrelated questions. (I've never filled in for H. -- typically K. fills in for H. and then one of the twenty of us fills in for K.)
H. used to have a job like mine, and eventually became a supervisor like K., and then moved to our city where he became the boss. (I used to work with H. when he was a supervisor, in the other city. A few months after he moved here and became the manager, he recruited a few of us to move here.)
H. has an odd relationship with lots of people. Many in our company dislike him -- he can be really gruff and brusque, especially to people who don't work in our department. He's gruff all the time, and half of the time it's concealing a heart of gold, and half the time he can be a real jerk, even to our staff. The problem is, he's mercurial, and you don't know which H. you're going to get at any given time. However, almost everything that's been good in my career, including some high-profile projects and business trips, came about as the direct result of H. -- he's given me good reviews (and pretty good raises), recommended me for things, and generally looked out for me.
He's done this for other people, too -- I'm not the teacher's pet. But I can't exactly love the guy or hate him.
(Everybody gets along well with K.)
The idea of being a manager is intriguing. I'm not sure whether to pursue it. How can I figure out if it's right for me, or if I'd be a good one? I'd have to decide how much I'd miss the work I'm doing now, which I enjoy and am fairly good at. I'd have to figure out how to handle co-workers' reactions to my changing role, being on call more, going from hourly rate to a salary (no more overtime) and the like.
And of course, if I apply I'm not sure how much of a shot I'd reasonably have at the job. Ordinarily, I'd talk to H.'s bosses (S. and his boss E.), both of whom I'm friendly with and have worked with for a while, but since they're presumably going to be deciding who to hire, I don't think they'd be willing to have an off-the-record conversation about my career and how suitable I'd be for this kind of role.
I assume K. will be applying for H.'s job. I think he'd do a good job, but he's quieter and not as forceful as H. He's popular with the staff, and morale would go up if he were to get H.'s job, and other people in the company who H. rubs the wrong way would probably be pleased as well.
S. and E. could go outside the company, however, and bring in someone else for H.'s job, or bring in someone else from another city where our department operates.
I am also wondering if I should apply for K.'s job, if K. gets hired to replace H. Again, I don't have as much experience in filling in for K. as some on our staff do, but I have some. I could do the job, but so could others.
So: How can I make all these decisions? How can I figure out if I'd be a good manager, or if that's indeed what I want? How can I figure out if it's worth applying for either H.'s or K.'s job? How can I tell if it's reasonable for me to apply? What questions should I be asking of who? What should I be thinking about?
Again, apologies for the alphabet soup and exhaustive background, but I won't be able to comment in the thread without blowing my cover.