Paul Allen: In technology, management is not the promotion

4/14/2012 8:58:03 PM

Description: Paul Allen: In technology, management is not the promotion

Moving from a technical to management position is to quit this job to follow the other one.

Whenever hearing a technician says, “I have just promoted to management”, I know he is in a difficult situation. Because he maybe does not understand what happened to himself, and the one assigned this job to him did not prepared carefully for him.  They rarely realize that in technical job, this new role is not a promotion - it's a career change.

Be promoted in general is getting more responsibility. That sense of continuity: what happened in the past is a part of what will happen in the future. But for the technical side, that's not true.

Design and management are completely different jobs, there is no overlap in necessary skills, knowledge and behavior. Technical managers don’t need to be good technical engineers. They need to be good in creating conditions that the others can become good engineers. Moving from technical to management role is to quit this job to follow the other one.

The selection and becoming a successful technical management require right evaluation of the differences between these roles and the transition motivation, since changing job can be a bit uncomfortable. Here are some things you can do to avoid this damage.

Trying before buying. Many engineers do not like the management role. They often choose to leave rather than be shameful because of “demotion” or loss. So the organization lost some most talented engineers because trying to “promote” the engineers for the work that they do not want.

To avoid this, giving engineers the chance to learn management without making any public statement, which is difficult to take back. They need the opportunity to try before committing to an important career change.

Using the formal transition. When a management candidate decides to follow new career, it is important to make a public announcement that he was moved to a new career path. This helps manager realize the depth of the change. It can be classic style, such as an office party - but it can also be fun. You can organize a celebration for example.

Waiting for the pain and the lack of conficence. Most new managers resist the idea that they have to give their past glory to capture new role. They try their best to be both technical staff and manager, but finally they realize that it is impossible. When they realize that they can not return to their technical job, you should consider their along sadness. They are not only losing their old jobs but also catching something completely new so they will definitely feel the lack of ability and lack of confidence in a while.

Provide training and supporting. Training can help but rarely be enough. To be a management is not only having more skills. It is about understanding new aspect of work and new ego. The managers should be trained to create change.

Allowing the passion. New managers sometime need opportunity to be immersed in their previous job. Let’s them write code. However, make sure they realize that this is only passion to relive their glory days but does not contribute much to the organization.

With a few quite easy adjustments in the language and approach, you can create an environment that the new technical managers grow up and get your needed team leader.

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