After years of slaving away at your job, you may view a promotion to management as a major award, but management isn’t just a destination; it’s a journey. Management is a skill in its own right, and, like any skill, some people have a natural aptitude for it, but it still takes work and practice to get it right.
There is nothing wrong with the realization that you can’t or don’t want to manage. Ultimately, it will save you, your coworkers, and your company a lot of time and resources. Here are some signs that management isn’t the way to go:
- You are easily influenced and/or controlled.
Management involves some tough decisions. If you’re a people-pleaser, this may not be a good fit. What may have made you excel in a service position — such as the ability to make everyone happy — can actually be a detriment in a management position. If someone like this is promoted, they often have trouble prioritizing, making tough calls, and realizing they can’t please everyone.
- You are dependent on regular feedback from others.
Managers give feedback and do the supervising, not the other way around. If you can’t work independently and need constant praise or input on your work, you are not ready to manage yourself, much less others.
- You are too rigid in your approach to your job.
If you can’t go with the flow and make some quick adjustments and accommodations, then management will stress you out almost every day. There are a seemingly infinite number of variables that make it impossible to plan your day or project as precisely as you might like. An effective manager must read the situation and adjust their style accordingly. A lack of flexibility will keep you from evolving within a dynamic environment — and in the corporate world, it is change or die. A rigid person will not be successful.
- You can’t hide your emotions well.
One day, an employee you hate will need to be fired; smiling in that meeting would be inappropriate. One day, an employee you love will get laid off; crying in that meeting would be unprofessional. In between, there will be many more awkward moments where you will need to hold it together and remain composed. If you can’t do this, management may not be for you.
- You are a control freak.
Good managers set people up for success by giving them all the skills and training that they need in order to do their jobs and then backing away to let them do it. They don’t revel in taking the credit; they allow their subordinates to control their actions and get the glory.
Bad managers get frustrated and do the job themselves. They micromanage. They fail to delegate. They take on too much because they can’t let go of anything. They don’t see the big picture because they are focused on making sure everything is impossibly perfect. This is a recipe for disaster.
The above characteristics are typical in individuals who do poorly in management positions. These qualities don’t necessarily doom someone to the bottom rungs forever, but they should act as starting points for changing one’s behaviors — if they aspire to management, that is.