“Climbing the management ladder is easy”, Common Questions and Answers of a Modern Office

QUESTION: Climbing the management ladder is easy.

FACT: It  is  easier  to  climb  the  technical  ladder  because it  is  not  so tightly  coupled  with  the  organization’s growth  and  team structure.

People  in  the  early  stages  of  their  career  aspire  to  become managers  because  they see  that  these  positions  have   authority and  power.  They  might  find  that  managers  are  not  involved in the  projects  full  time,  but  spend  a  considerable  amount of  time  in  tracking,  resources  allocation-  and  risk  assessment, which  appear  easier  assignments.  Definitely,  this  perception evaporates  once  the  person  gains  experience  in  the  workplace.

Employees  see  a  clear  hierarchy  in  management  with  well defined  roles  and  responsibilities.  The  problem  is  that  even though  most  of  the  companies  have  introduced  what  is known  as  the  ‘technical  ladder’,  it  is  difficult  to  see  whether any  decision-making  power  lies  there.   Employees  on  this  track would  also  like  to  be  heard  and  to  be  accountable.  Those on  the  technical  ladder—especially  if  they  are  working  as a  consultant  and  are  not  involved  in  the  full  project  cycle—do not  gain  respect  from  other  team  members.  Even  a  well planned  technical  ladder  can  be  ineffective  if  the  division  of responsibility  is  not  well  defined,  as  this  leads  to  frustration among  the  employees.

Growth  opportunities  are  always  dependent  upon  business prospects,  and  management  positions  are  much  more  tied into  a  pyramid  structure,  span  of  control  and  the  factor  of team  size.  The  technical  ladder  is  not  so  tightly  linked,  and  if a  person  has  acquired  the  skill  to  perform  at  a  higher  level, he  might  not  have  to  wait  long  to  move  up.  Sometimes,  on the  management  ladder,  one  has  to  wait  for  a  vacancy,  which is  not  always  true  in  the  case  of  the  technical  ladder.

WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE EMPLOYEE? Each ladder has its own challenges. The key for growth in your career- whether it is in the technical or the management field- is to adopt the right kind of behavior and work style consistent with the new position. For example, as an individual contributor, your should learn to place a high value on your own work. And when you become a manager, you must change

this approach to that of placing value on other people’s work (that is, your own team’s). On the technical ladder, you must change from being successful at owning individual pieces of project work to being able to contribute knowledge across multiple projects without necessarily owning the outcomes.

WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? There’s a need for many organizations to take steps to ‘glamorize’ the technical ladder so that those who are fundamentally inclined towards it should not clutter management positions. You need to define roles and responsibilities clearly so as to provide visibility to each contribution. Most importantly, a say in their own work and a sense of ownership and accountability, wherever possible, should also be accorded

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