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The IT Pro Podcast: Why techies shouldn’t become managers

Managing people is a completely different skillset to managing technology - so why do we keep pushing people from one to the other?

The IT Pro Podcast: Why techies shouldn’t become managers

In the business world, we often talk about ‘climbing the career ladder’ - and the unspoken implication is that everyone wants to eventually reach the top. In most organisations, this means ascending to some form of senior management or executive role, but what about those that would rather stay where they are?

For many IT professionals, reaching a certain level of seniority results in graduating from managing technology to managing people, but the two roles require considerably different skillsets, and good technologists do not always make good leaders. In this week’s episode, we look at the question of whether IT teams should be managed by people with technical skills, as well as examining why technical staff end up with management responsibilities and asking whether it’s possible to stay out of senior management without sacrificing progression and compensation.

Highlights

“we've spoken a lot, and you've spoken, about slightly putting the burden on IT employees; it's also behoven upon their employer to think about how can they reward people who, for whatever reason, are not going to move up to management, whether that is because the employer doesn't think that they're the right fit for that role, or the employee themselves doesn't want to do it. And so I think that does require something of a rethink of how they handle employee progression beyond just upwards; what does sideways look like?”

“And yeah, there's a good few examples of leaders taking the opposite approach, in fact, and stepping back from executive and management roles to focus specifically on technical tasks. Recently, the co-founder of HashiCorp, Mitchell Hashimoto, stepped back from being co-CTO, to being an individual contributor. He previously stepped back from his role as CEO to be co-CTO, and he's now stepped back again, because he just doesn't enjoy leadership as much as he loves coding and being an engineer - and that's fine.”

Read the full transcript here.

Footnotes

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