Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Management is Not for Everyone

I have to give a lot of career advice to people.  One of the most common conversations I have to have is if someone should pursue a career in management.  I normally try to steer people away from this path because it really is not for everyone.  Before you actually get in management, it seems like a no-brainer.  It is more money, less work, and all you have to do is tell people what to do all day.  When you actually get there, you realize that this is simply not the case.

I think the best way to illustrate my point is to talk about last week.

I ran in a marathon on Sunday.  This was no ordinary marathon.  This was the LA marathon of 2011, a marathon run in some of the most miserable conditions.  I had not properly trained for it. I was injured toward the end and had to compress some of my training.  Given these things, I really should not have gone to work the next day as my legs were barely functioning but I had no choice.  I was traveling Tuesday through Thursday for work which meant that I had to get some things done in the office before that.  You might think I could just go in for a few hours, take care of those things, and then go home.  But I had to be in the office early for some meetings and I ended up staying later than everyone else trying to tie up some loose ends.

The next day, I was up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight to NYC.  You might think I wouldn't have to worry about anything going on in the office, but unfortunately that is not the case.  We have recently lost a few employees and this forces me to have to take care of a lot of different things.  Both before and after I got off the plane, I was in constant e-mail contact.

Nothing really slowed down for me over the next few days despite being out of office. On Thursday, my plane took off late and did not arrive back home until after 11:00 p.m.  I should have taken Friday off.  But there was no way I could.  I had several candidate interviews to take care of as well as some pressing HR employee issues.  You compound this with the fact that I was supposed to take the next Monday and Tuesday off and you can see that it was important for me to get into the office.

To top it all off, I am about to head into work.   What?  I thought you said you were going to take Monday and Tuesday off?  You are right, I was going to, but I now cannot.  It turns out there is a very important, time-sensitive project my CEO wants me to undertake.  Time is really of the essence here so I have no real choice in terms of cutting my time off short.  This despite the fact that my wife has already scheduled the time off and will now be staying at home without me.

The point of all of this is not that I am complaining.  This is the life that I have chosen because the trade off is right for me;  I do not mind comprimising my own personal life to achieve more at work.  The point is that this trade off is not for everyone.  Management, when done right, puts more responsibilities on your sholders, not less.  You become responsible for everyone underneath you.  Their problems become your problems.  If you are not prepared to take on more responsibilities, and therefore have less choices, than management may not be right for you.   This is not to say that management sucks or is hard.  For some people like myself, the choice is the right one because it plays to my strengths.  For others, not so much.

As for the other perks of management?  Highly overrated.  I have been a manager where I actually make less money than some of my employees.  It happens more often than you think.  As for getting to tell people to do what you tell them to do?  Yeah, you may tell them to do something.  But you are definitely going to run into employees who either are incapable or just refuse to do what you ask of them.  The answer is rarely, if ever, so simple as to just get rid of them.

So think long and hard about if you want to get into management.  Know why you want to do it.  Don't let more money and to be "the boss" be the reason.


  1. This has helped me more than you know.
    I kind of knew management was'nt for me, but felt guilty to my family that I've been
    given this oppertunity and am not enjoying it at all.
    It's taken over my life and I miss the life I had so much. I'm alot richer now, but miserable inside. I have a constent dull ache in my stomach, which does'nt go away.
    Sometimes you just know, dont you?
    It's been nearly a year now, time to start to look for something else.

  2. Dang it. My dream job of a McDonalds manager is ruined because of this article :(