For some, people management just isn’t their cup of tea. From training and development to managing employee relations, managing others isn’t the career path they want to take.
Maybe you would rather spend your time developing an area of knowledge that you are truly passionate about. Whatever the reason, your career progression options are not limited. There are non-people management routes to career success, and here’s how you can pursue them:
The first step to pursuing the non-people management route, is to become a guru or expert in your area. Take advantage of every learning opportunity available, be it by reading blogs and books, finding a mentor, or asking your boss if you can go on a professional course.
Increasing your knowledge needs to become a habit, rather than a one-off task that you tick off your list and forget all about. No doubt your area of expertise will change and evolve, and if you want to stay relevant and in the loop, you must commit to always being inquisitive, on the ball and keen to learn more.
Look for opportunities to market your expertise both inside your existing organisation and across your wider industry or network. At the very least, you should be adding enhancements in your expertise to your CV and professional profiles as you go along. But how else can you build a strong reputation?
If you can establish yourself as an expert in your field in the minds of key decision makers both within your internal and external network, this will equip you for the next steps along your non-people management path.
Once you are confident and credible in your expert status, it’s time to think about how to take your career to the next level. Perhaps a meeting to discuss your career path is on the horizon, or you are due an appraisal with your boss. If not, take the lead and set up a meeting.
Approach this meeting with your boss in a constructive way, making sure you convey the over-arching message that you want to stay within this company and progress your career, but without managing people.
In advance of the meeting, I would advise you plan ahead, preparing some examples of how you have taken it upon yourself to increase your skills set, plus the positive impact this has had on the business. Remember to include measurable results. I would also advise that you try to think of some possible internal non-people management career paths to suggest to your boss, for instance becoming closely involved in a project which could benefit from your specialist skills. Preparing some options is particularly important if people management is generally the most common route for career progression within the company.
Your boss should be supportive and open to your proposals, offering up their own suggestions in terms how your role could develop without you needing to manage people. However, if, for whatever reason, the only clear path to progression within your company involves people management, it could be time to start looking elsewhere, which brings me onto my next point.
If you are unable to progress your career by following a non-people management route in your current company, you could consider the below options. These will all offer career progression in one way or another, whether it’s an increase in responsibility, income, professional development or all three:
So you aren’t “people manager material”. This doesn’t mean your career progression is limited. In many organisations the career path of an aspiring people manager is easier to plan and envisage, so you may need to think outside the box. However, if you can focus on developing a set of skills and carve your niche that way, you will establish yourself as an expert in your area and open your world up to a range of promising non-people management progression paths.
Carmena joined Hays in 1986 working for the Accountancy and Finance team in Manchester. After eighteen months she seized the opportunity to open the Altrincham office and her career in leadership began. Following increasingly broader management roles across the North West region, Carmena was promoted to Regional Director in 1994 for the Greater Manchester area before changing direction to become a channel lead across the North to support and build the new Office Support business. In 2011 she was appointed to the role of multi specialism Director for Merseyside and Cheshire. Carmena was appointed to the UKI Board in October 2017 and promoted to Managing Director for the North West Region in June 2018.
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