To manage or not to manage?

A promotion to a managerial position isn’t for everyone, but can employees still keep advancing without taking that step?


You landed a job you love. Your passion for your work supercharged your performance. Your performance has put you in the running for a management position.

You’re not sure you want it.

A promotion means higher pay and more prestige, but you’ve seen what’s expected of managers. You’d be supervising rather than doing the work you love.

Can you have the best of both worlds by being a hands-on manager? Don’t count on it.

“You’ll get overloaded, and in the majority of management positions, it would be seen as a control issue — a failure to delegate,” says executive recruiter and career coach Tom Chaplin.

Should you decide that managing — or micromanaging, as the case may be — is not for you, you’re not alone. More than three-quarters of employees polled by the staffing firm OfficeTeam said they’re not interesting in having their manager’s position.

Still, you must make sure you’re advancing professionally, as well as standing out from your competition. How will you grow? How will your salary grow?

Let’s talk money first. Using an online calculator,it’s important to regularly benchmark your salary against others in your position and with your experience. You can’t make a case for upping your salary if you don’t know the going rate,” says Brandi Britton, a district president at OfficeTeam.

If your job title and duties stay the same, you have to do extra to justify merit-based raises from one year to the next. Your value to the organization needs to go up, but simply doing more and more of the same work isn’t sustainable.

Keeping abreast of changing technology is one way to add value. “There may be all kinds of new ways to do the same job more effectively,” says executive and career coach Rebecca “Kiki” Weingarten.

You might also increase your perceived value simply by becoming more visible within the organization. Look for situational leadership opportunities such as taking charge of high-profile projects “that don’t require a promotion but give you an opportunity to shine, work with others throughout the company and show off your strengths,” says Jennifer Lasater, vice president of employer and career services at Kaplan University.

Join teams or committees, mentor others or simply forge relationships with influential people, she adds.

Don’t take for granted that your boss will notice and reward you for merrily working away. Come out of the zone every so often to reassess priorities with your boss and discuss your professional goals.

“You may learn of interesting opportunities within the company by having these conversations, and if there’s a certain area you’d like to build your skills in, your supervisor may be able to suggest appropriate training options or additional projects that will help you improve and grow professionally,” Britton says.

Since companies sometimes have salary caps for certain job titles, there may come a time when you need to leave your employer in order to advance. Map out a career plan before it comes to that. Instead of the traditional career ladder, picture a career map with onramps to bigger and better opportunities to do what you love. For example, a small-town newspaper reporter may envision a national magazine as the final destination.

“Whatever your specific career goal, set tangible action steps to keep your eyes on the prize,” Britton says.

If you dream of a certain job, scrutinize the person who has it. “How did they get there? LinkedIn makes it fairly easy to trace someone’s steps,” Weingarten says.

Consider how your skills and talents might transfer to a different field. The people skills and powers of persuasion required for fundraising, for example, could transfer to a position in sales for a company with products and a mission you believe in.

Whether at one organization or a series of organizations, “to keep advancing in your career, it’s necessary to stay in tune with what’s new in your field and industry by participating in professional organizations, reading trade and business publications, and attending conferences or courses to add to your skill set,” Britton says. “Keep your ear to the ground by networking. Word of mouth is still the best way to hear of new opportunities. You can also get insight into potential career trajectories by talking to others in the same space.”