Stay Technical or Become a Manger: 10 Things to Consider

Dear Eric, I was just offered a promotion from programmer to IT manager. It feels wonderful to be asked, but I’m not sure I want to take it. Any thoughts on what I should do?

Techies go to college and/or technical schools to become technical professionals. It may be as a software developer, help desk technician, social media guru, data communication specialist, website designer, or in other technical area. Then, one day, because of the great technical work you do, your boss says that he/she wants to talk to you in his/her office and says the following:

Hi (your name goes here), you have done great work over the past couple of years and have shown some great leadership qualities. I would like to promote you to a new job that:

• You didn’t go to school to learn • Will cause your technical skills to decline • Your current job skills are not really transferable to help you in this new position • You have no training on many aspects of the job • The job is open because about a year ago I promoted someone else into the job, with skills very similar to yours, who couldn’t do the job, and had to be fired.

Welcome to management!

All that said, being an IT Manager is a great job for the right person. I personally loved being in IT management roles. I found it to be creative, interesting, challenging, and rewarding. IT Management, however, is not for everyone. The question is, “is it for you?”

Here are ten things to consider when deciding to accept or pass on the opportunity to become an IT/Technical Manager:

1. Does becoming a manager interest you or are you considering the job just for the potential increase in pay? 2. Do you feel you are personally ready and have the level of maturity needed to take on the responsibility of managing other professionals? 3. Do you have the professional experience to move into management or would it be best to gain more experience as an individual contributor first? 4. Do you love doing technical work to the degree that you will eventually be sorry you moved in a different professional direction? 5. Does becoming a manager excite you as a new career opportunity? If so, why? 6. Have you conceptualized the idea of, over time, replacing your technical skills with management skills? 7. What are the current issues, abilities, and obligations of the group you are being asked to manage? That said, are you setting yourself up for success or failure? 8. If you take this new management role, what will your next step be? That is to say, is this new job a stepping stone toward your long term career objective? If so, how? 9. Will this manager’s role change your work/life balance? If yes, how and are you willing to accept this change in your personal life? 10. Do you think you can be successful in this new role? If yes: a. How do you know you will be successful? b. What will you do to help assure that success? c. What if you are wrong, what then?

The nature of these questions was not to encourage you or discourage you from taking the IT Manager job. My goal is simply to provide you with some personal insights that will help you move forward with your career in the best possible fashion. Good luck and best wishes on whichever path you take.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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