When you can't have what you want, try to want what you have.
July 19, 2012 4:42 PM   Subscribe

I have two career options to choose from, and neither is the one I want. Help me make the best of the choices I have.

For approximately two years, I have been managing people and projects on behalf of my own manager, who was supporting my desire to groom for the management track. I received training, I did an excellent job, I was recognized (publicly, privately and financially) for my efforts, and I was being actively evangelized for the next available management position. The downside to this is that my technology skills have been atrophying from lack of use.

Sadly, that manager is gone, and my new manager (previously his manager) has systematically pruned my management responsibilities to none, stopped my training, and in all other ways has not supported my goals. We just sat down to talk about it, and he made it clear that I have my pick of opportunities as a tech or as an Agile "scrum master" (a role I have a lot of experience in), but I have no opportunities whatsoever in management, and I do not have his support in seeking such opportunities.

I have been asked to decide whether I want to do one role, the other role, or continue to split the roles 50/50 (which I have been doing ever since he pruned my management responsibilities.)

This is the response I have planned for tomorrow: if he is willing to give me an approximately 10% bump in salary, I will take on the "scrum master" role full time, and if not, then I will return to a full-time technology role.

My reasoning is simple: I'll be looking for a new job either way, and in the meantime I'd rather do the technology role (I enjoy it, and it will make me more marketable to have my skills well-exercised.) However, extra money would enable something important to me, I could sleepwalk through the "scrum master" job while looking for a new job, and I'd be working directly to help people reach their goals (which is, ultimately, what management is all about, even if it isn't a management role.)

Your job (if you choose to accept it) is to tell me where I'm making a mistake, and your feedback is appreciated.
posted by Passillododorconquail Buttonquivorybidododorbacon to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh, and it is worth noting that the "scrum master" role is one that others also hold, and nobody else wants to hold; since other people are saying "no way, I won't do it any more", I think asking for a financial premium to take on that role is tenable.
posted by Passillododorconquail Buttonquivorybidododorbacon at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2012

I was waiting the whole time I was reading this for "I'll be looking for a new job," and since you definitely are planning that, I'd say that your plan seems to be sound (go with the easy thing if it comes with a pay raise, and if not you'll do the action you enjoy, and you'll be looking for a new job either way).

Perhaps I would add, "find out where your old manager is working and get him/her to put in a word for you in that place".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:50 PM on July 19, 2012

Seconding everything EmpressCallipygos says, but I would suggest taking the tech position. All else being equal (raise, time until you start interviewing), a short-term gain in tech knowledge should have bigger payoffs than what I consider scrum-master'ing skills, which are soft and kind of like riding-a-bike recoverable. This is to say that scrum mastering hasn't changed as much in tech since the last time you were immersed in either of them. It (SM) is also easier to fake or storytell in an interview, not to mention that there are so few real scrum masters in circulation, just having experience doing the actual thing is impressive in itself.

New manager is a jerk, I hate that stuff.
posted by rhizome at 7:24 PM on July 19, 2012

You know your office politics better than anyone here, but if you were publicly recognized for your management potential, are you positive that your new manager can truly stand in the way of that career path? A talk to HR might help you figure out an alternate path. Presumably your reviews included indications that you were management material, and good organizations don't want talent squelched by petty people for no reason. I would at least explore other options before taking it on faith that these are your two options. I think management at your current company can still be a viable goal.
posted by visual mechanic at 8:17 PM on July 19, 2012

Oh yeah, you're doing the right thing. Grind them with salary to take the lesser of the two evils and get the eff outta there.

That's the problem with corporate America. If you like your situation, wait, it will change. If you hate your situation, wait, it will change.

You don't work for a company, you work for yourself. Make all decisions based upon, "What's in it for me."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2012

Your strategy sounds good. But think about this: it sounds like the technology job is more relevant to the new job you're looking for. So I would take the technology job.
posted by commitment at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2012

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