The question reminds me of a quote “Everybody’s a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll live its life believing it’s stupid.” – Albert Einstein. This is a pertinent question many techies will have on their mind after spending significant time in to a technical role. Few of the questions that come in to mind are:-
- Earn more than a management role?
- Remain best in the technical field for long time as Subject Matter Expert?
- What skills to acquire to make the transition in to management role?
- Will I succeed in to the management role and sail through long?
The list is not exhaustive, there can be many more. So what is the next step to solve this dilemma? First step in this direction can be to find out what type of management role are you aspiring for? There are typically 2 types of management roles – one where you manage multiple projects & teams and second where you can influence in the direction the business should take in short term and long term. Both these roles require some commons skills and some unique skills.
The common skills could be:
- Remain organised, self-motivated and ready to take on high-level challenges
- Establish positive work relationships with multiple stakeholders
- Demonstrate successful leadership of teams with multiple participants
- Handle conflicts well and are able to analyse multiple angles of a situation before reacting
- You are good teacher/ mentor/ coach?
- Are you a good communicator and motivator?
- Are you willing to be accountable for your team’s performance?
- Can you make the tough calls?
- Are you ready to be there with your team?
- Can you celebrate your team’s success?
The unique skills for role one – To manage multiple projects & teams:
- Are you good at work delegation?
- Can you identify among the talent and groom next leader?
- Can you effectively handle resource allocation and scheduling?
- How good are you at risk management and budgeting?
- How effectively do you manage change and issues?
The unique skills for role two – Influence the business direction on short term and long term basis:
- Do you understand your business well?
- Can you spot an opportunity on the horizon before competitors?
- Can you persuade stakeholders when odds are against you?
- Do you possess creative problem solving ability?
- The above list is not exhaustive but can help in understanding the nuances of different types of management roles and how your skills up to it.
The most important fact is – Are you willing to undertake this journey towards the new role and how committed are you? Can you take some concrete steps by taking on additional tasks with your existing tasks to figure out whether you are suitable for role of type 1 or type 2? Type 1 roles can be of project manager or program manager. Type 2 roles can be of a product owner, product manager, technical product manager, pre-sales engineer or account manager.
To take additional tasks can be like helping your manager with report generation and status gathering. I can also be like discussing new features or competitive analysis of products with product manager or participate in a conference call with customer along with a pre-sales engineer. There are certain skills which you can acquire by undergoing various courses like an executive management course or course on project / personnel management. The courses can equip you to speak and understand the language that is used across these roles.
So at last take the plunge in to the water to test it and see how you fair.