Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 10: pursuing a first management position and knowing if this is the right career step for you

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on July 10, 2013

This is my tenth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-319 for Parts 1-9.)

I have been writing my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development through its first directory page entries and into its Part 2 continuation primarily in terms of progressive advancement up a table of organization. And I have perhaps done this at times as if advancement into management, and from there into more senior management was the primary career path available to essentially anyone. But I explicitly note here that I did that simply as a means of covering the primary career stages found along the span of a table of organization, and from working as a non-management hands-on professional up through working as a senior executive, C level manager or board member.

I step back here to more explicitly consider alternative career routes to that, where a best path forward for you might may mean staying, if not in exactly the same job then at the same organizationally defined level of job – except as a progressively more and more experienced and expert employee.

• For many that means pursuing a career path at a non-supervisory level. But even there, with experience comes opportunity and even need requirement to mentor and train others.
• This can, alternatively, mean advancing into management and to a position where you run a local office but no further. That might be your true calling and the right place and position for you to stay at as your career path goal.

I find myself thinking of banking, and local and small town branch office managers as I write this, and managers who come to know all of their regular customers and who find working with their local communities – both their own local staff members and the people they serve, as their true calling. Moving to a more senior position where administrative duties supplant the direct person to person touch, can be a personal disaster for people who do better working with people and their needs and directly so, rather than working with forms and more impersonal processes and procedures. I have seen this type of career advancement mistake happen to teachers too, who excel in the classroom but who fail when primarily or even exclusively spending their time supervising other teachers – at the cost of no longer being able to pursue their professional dream of hands-on teaching.

• A next step up on the table of organization is not always best, and for many it is not and cannot be.
• An important and even crucially important part of career planning has to be in really coming to understand your own needs and your own strengths, and yes your own weaknesses and limitations too. And with that I make note of a point all to easily overlooked:
• If you seek out, or are offered and accept a “career advancement step” that is not right for you and for helping you pursue and reach your own best career path, you set yourself up for failure, as a move away from where you hold your greatest potential for success and I add for personal satisfaction too.

That said, advancement into management and even into senior management is the right path for some. And with that point, I come to the explicit title of this posting and advancement into a first formal, table of organization-listed management position. And I begin addressing that by posing a question:

• Do you seek to go into management simply for the title and recognition, or as a route to garnering a higher salary, or do you seek this as a path to addressing deeper needs?

Peer recognition is important and can be a compelling driving force, and so can be the opportunity to receive greater salary and benefits than would be possible at your current position level. But if these and similar factors are your only incentives for advancement up the table of organization and if your true calling is more in the type of work and with the types of interpersonal connectedness that you have now, you might find yourself enjoying the benefits but at the cost of being less than satisfied with the job itself. And this leads to burnout.

I have been thinking about an earlier, closely related posting as I write this on and cite it here as pertinent to this entire discussion:

A Critique of the Peter Principle – career as a series of growth and transition phases.

I wrote that posting in terms of training and preparation for making what could and would be a good or even a best career advancement move for you.

• Here, my focus is on knowing if a potential career move is even potentially good for you at all and even with opportunity for effective training and guidance.
• Is this a career step that you could both succeed at, and also be happy and fulfilled at even if you could effectively carry out its task-level responsibilities?
• Both sides of that are crucial and they are also inextricably connected too.

So for point of discussion here, let’s assume that advancement up that table of organization and into a formal management position is right for you – and not simply something that you might feel pressured into taking. I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment with a focus on best practices for being recognized and even sought after for a management career track – starting with the crucial first step of reaching and achieving a first entry level management position. And I will primarily write this in terms of advancing that first step up the table of organization of a larger and more organizationally complex business, but I will also note how the approach that I will present there, would apply to smaller organizations too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.


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