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The Management Myth: Not Everyone Wants to Be a Manager

April 12, 2016

With the current focus on employee engagement, many organizations are creating career and development plans for their workers. This is a great thing and can create engagement if done correctly. What is not great is when organizations assume that management is the ultimate goal for all employees.

Sure, positions in management often mean prestige, a larger paycheck and increased responsibility. But it can also mean more stress, longer hours and less time doing what employees enjoy.

The myth of management is that not everyone wants to be –     or should be – a manager.

Just as being an expert does not make one a good teacher, being an expert does not mean that someone can manage people.


Effective managers have a different skill set than managers of projects, products or processes. They are good with people, conflict management, budgets and communication. Not everyone has these skills. Most people actually prefer to avoid conflict than to deal with it. But if you have a manager that cannot deal with people issues that involve conflict, he or she will not be effective. He or she will have difficulty gaining the trust and confidence of his or her subordinates, which can have devastating effects.


 Additionally, a management role may involve stepping out of the job one is good at in order to manage others doing that job. If someone enjoys program management, training or selling and now no longer does that function, it may mean a loss of enjoyment and confidence.


 Many employees do not want the added stress that being a manager brings. It may mean longer hours and less control, as people are unpredictable.


 For these reasons, it makes sense that many people do NOT want to manage people.

 Many employees of all ages are more interested in work life balance and flexibility. They want to do what they are good at and what allows them the maximum amount of enjoyment in life. For many, that may mean giving up the big paychecks if it means more hours with their family.


  Organizations should realize that not everyone wants to be or should be a manager and provide multiple options for promotions and development. Finding out where each person wants to be in 5 or 10 years is a long process, but one that makes sense to keep employees happy. Many employees want to learn new skills or have new challenges that are not necessarily aligned with being a manager. If organizations focus on what each employee wants, they could save billions spent on turnover and training. People who do not want to manage or those who work for a bad manager are likely to quit. Money spent on training these managers may be wasted if it is not their ultimate goal.

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We partner with clients to build a strategy for creating thriving workplaces by aligning culture to increase engagement and retention.


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