How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Becoming a Manager When You Love Technical Work

Tianyu WANG
3 min readJun 22, 2023

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Let’s first talk about the technical experts, who are they? They are professionals who have in-depth knowledge and expertise in a particular field or discipline. In technology companies, they hold various job titles, such as solution experts, architects, tech leads, and more.

Indeed, technical experts play a crucial leadership role in shaping the strategies and solutions of companies. There are numerous reasons why they are promoted to managerial positions. Firstly, many experts possess the ability to align technology initiatives with business objectives. Additionally, their comprehensive understanding of the field allows technical experts to facilitate collaboration, motivate team members, and provide clear directions to achieve project goals.

However, there are potential pitfalls that can arise after becoming a manager rapidly.

While technical experts may possess exceptional skills in their respective domains, they might lack the necessary managerial skills and training. Without proper knowledge and experience in management, they may face challenges in effectively leading and managing teams. This can result in poor decision-making, ineffective communication, and difficulty in handling personnel issues. Moreover, moving into a managerial position often entails dedicating less time to hands-on technical work. For technical experts who find fulfillment in directly engaging with technical tasks, assuming a managerial role could lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. The shift in focus towards managerial responsibilities, such as team coordination, project planning, and administrative tasks, may divert their attention from the technical aspects they enjoy.

I would like to highlight these potential risks without implying that technical experts cannot be effective managers. It is important to be mindful of these challenges and consider implementing measures such as a trial period for experts to experience a managerial role. This approach benefits both the organization and the expert, as it allows for an assessment of compatibility and ensures a win-win outcome.

To prevent mistakes, organizations should review and ensure fairness and equivalence in career paths for both Individual Contributors (IC) and managers. In certain organizations, the managerial track may be the primary or sole path for career advancement. As a result, technical experts may feel compelled to assume managerial roles in order to progress in their careers, even if their true passion lies in technical work. This mismatch can lead to feelings of career dissatisfaction and frustration, as they are pushed into a role that doesn’t align with their interests and strengths.

The roles of an Individual Contributor (IC) and a manager represent two distinct career paths, with neither being inherently superior or inferior to the other. It should be a transition rather than a promotion. It is crucial to provide equal opportunities for individuals to choose their desired path, ensuring that the right people are placed in positions where they can excel in their roles.

Last, people follow leaders not managers.

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Tianyu WANG
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I am dedicated to empowering my teams, fostering efficiency and collaboration, and yielding more successful stories.