Lindsay Holmwood wrote a lovely piece about the common misconception of management being a promotion rather than a career change:
Lindsay covers two contributing factors for first time managers being woefully unprepared to their roles and managers:
- Systemic undervaluation of non-technical skills , which is probably most pervasive in Engineering, but almost just as common in other disciplines.
- The Dunning-Kruger cognitive bias (90% of people think they are “better than average” drivers”)
Which unfortunately tends to have a multiplied impact given the role of a manager.
He also suggests focusing on three key levers for improving your skill as a manager: professional training, mentors and self-education.
A highly recommended read, especially for aspiring managers and managers who often times get frustrated about not being able to do “real work”.
I know this all sounds rather trivial, but in places where management is not proactively positioned as a career change, and a an “individual contributor” promotion path is not well defined, management easily gets perceived as the “only way up”. Which is, as Rand Fishkin suggests, not a good situation to be in: