Categorized | Workplace

No Management for Me – Avoid Management

Posted on 24 December 2008

You may want to avoid leadership roles.

The phone rings at your desk. On the line is the boss and she wants to talk. There’s no problem; rather, she’s offering you a promotion, a management position.

While for some this is the dream scenario, for others such a situation creates a dilemma. Do you accept a promotion, along with the money and prestige that may come with it, even when the job you have right now feels like the perfect fit?

There are many reasons why people do not aspire to be in management. Perhaps they don’t want the added pressure, or they lack the people skills to deal effectively with staff. Many employees are truly fulfilled by the jobs they have. They’re hands-on people. Nurses become nurses to care for patients, not to fill out paperwork. Engineers become engineers to build and design, not to tell other people how to do it.

If you don’t want the promotion, tell your boss, but have reasons why.

But here’s the tricky part if you want to stay put in your job and not be pushed into management: Bosses do not want to hear the word “no.” “You risk sounding like you’re lazy, not ambitious. We live in a very ambitious culture,” says Gioia Danesi, a career counselor and assistant dean of career services at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. “If you don’t want the promotion, tell your boss, but have reasons why.”

Show Supervisors Your Value
There are plenty of people who complain that they can’t get ahead because they are too good at what they do – that if they were promoted into management, the company would lose a valued foot soldier. But if you want to keep your current position, let your boss know how valuable you are precisely because of what you do.

Bob Vanasse has lived life on both sides of the fence. A nuclear engineer for Entergy, which owns and operates power plants across the country, he was a supervisor at another company earlier in his career. “The supervisory job was like baby-sitting. Some guy wants a raise, someone else has a problem, and I found it very hard to get involved in that kind of thing.”

He realized that his best abilities were no longer being used, and later joined Entergy as an engineer, the job at which he excelled and felt most comfortable.

“I prefer the technical part of the job. I’m not one of those people persons. I’m more into solving the problems and doing the actual engineering.” But first he had to prove to his superiors that this was the right route for everyone involved. “You’re trying to maximize your usefulness to the company and at some point you and the company have to come to a consensus of what’s best for both.”

Continue To Grow in Your Job
Put yourself in your boss’s wingtips. You’re being offered a promotion, probably a raise, too. And you don’t want that? Turning down such an offer is risky unless you can convince your superior that you are more valuable in your current position. But what if the boss won’t take “no” for an answer? “You can certainly look for the same job in a different company, but you have to have a story to tell about why you haven’t wanted to go into management,” says Danesi.

Whether you’re able to stay or willing to leave, it’s important to advance your skills, even if you’re not aiming for that big desk with the comfortable chair. Offer to take on new projects or new roles within the company. Take courses to expand your field of knowledge. Positive actions like those can help convince your superiors that you’re not a complacent bump on a log, but an employee who takes his or her job performance very seriously.

“Companies are looking for people who adjust well to change. If you’re not nimble, you’re in trouble,” says Fred Cullen, president of Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston.

Bob Vanasse, who holds a master’s degree in nuclear engineering and is now 60 years of age, looks back and agrees that if he had decided to “play the game,” he could have advanced further in his career. But he’s convinced he made the right choices. “I’ve been working on nuclear power plants since 1967. People who are gung ho about their work are the ones who have the future. You look at management and say, ‘Maybe I could do that.’ But now I know I just didn’t want it.”

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