I’m not a Manager, I don’t want to be one

geekHappened to come across this useful post while browsing some HBR tweets: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/12/what_if_you_dont_want_to_be_a.html

Very interesting viewpoints that ring a chord with my career goals. Clearly I never ever want to get into the shoes of a manager. Not that management is a bad thing, but it is just that my talents, skills and interests lies solidly in the technical domain. I may have some skills in managing projects but I have zero interest in pursuing those skills. I’d want to do R&D, create, innovate and architect till the end of my days, period.

Unfortunately I see so many contrary examples in India. Solid technical people getting into management and wasting their careers. Here this phenomenon is very much a social mis-culture as much as it is corporate. For so many, becoming a manager is the ultimate career nirvana. Career growth is directly proportional to the number of people reporting to you! Sad to say the vast majority do not have the relevant skills, resulting in projects and teams getting screwed up and the wrong picture being put across to senior management of multi-national organizations. One incapable manager can completely destroy an otherwise successful team.

Families and parents are also to blame much. Having the manager tag gives instant recognition and respect from family members. Technical architect, analyst, principal engineer, technology fellow, distinguished engineer what crap are those? You only want to remain an engineer? When are you becoming a manager? You should get a management degree. This is typically the attitude today in Indian societies. Letting people recognize their innate abilities and follow that path nature laid out for them is just not in our blood. Which is why we only provide managed services while the rest of the world creates and innovates. It is not that innovation and creation is zero, but how many of our great Scientists, Engineers, Professors, Doctors etc. do we honour, recognize and remember compared to literary figures, actors, singers and businessmen. Of late some change is visible though.

Then there is the lure of the lucre. So many people get into management courses chasing that higher salary. In fact salary becomes the driving factor for engineering and computer science grads getting into management courses, urged in no small part, by their parents.

Corporate culture is also there especially in the IT services industry where the only growth path beyond a certain point is people and project managers. I left my 2nd job in HCL Technologies because of that. I am fortunate to have parents, and later in-laws who understand my talents and let me pursue the direction I want to go. I am greatly fortunate to have a mother whose early grooming recognized and developed my abilities into skills that really helps me to forward my career in the appropriate direction.

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4 thoughts on “I’m not a Manager, I don’t want to be one

  1. Lalitha G

    Good insights. What echoes from my mind is the finding by our Kalam sir that Indians lack the decision making capability. We are highly talented but not firm decision makers to see whats best for us. An Indian mind gets easily influenced by family/friends/opinions… Our inner hearing our own mind must improve. We must look forward for days when we honor more researchers, scientists, doctors, independent thinkers 🙂

    Reply
  2. Deepak

    Agree with you on this one. I have problems with people thinking about getting into management as a “natural progression” of their career. It will be great if they become managers because that is what they want to be. As for me, I do not want to become one.

    Reply

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