I was offered the title of Application Development Supervisor, but a long history of dealing with non-technical management makes me feel this is not an appropriate title with a clear enough set of responsibilities to differentiate my role with that of the manager I would report to. How should I respond to this offer?
I have worked for a 750-person organization for twelve and a half years, the last ten as a software developer. Five years ago, the Manager of Application Development, who I reported to, respect, and consider a mentor, left his position for another company. Although he was highly technical with great soft skills, seven months later a person who is completely non-technical and unaware of even the basics of software development, was hired to replace him. This resulted in a number of developers leaving, including the senior developer in our group. When he left two years ago I was given the title of Senior Application Developer.
Over the last two years I have inherited the work of the former senior developer, the technical work of my former manager (who was also a developer), and retained my former duties as well. Additionally, I have been tasked with writing job descriptions; performing technical interviews; on-boarding new devs; managing interns and giving them their performance reviews; bringing in new tools to the stack and redefining it from time to time; and much more.
It became apparent, to me at least, that this was not a sustainable model. I requested a meeting with the Director of IT and the manager I report to and explained that they were asking me to increase my technical managerial duties while also continuing to increase my developer load. I told them that we needed to offload some of my responsibilities to others and find a new title for me.
Several months passed without any action being taken by management, but after one of my reminder emails asking for updates on my request, I received an email from my manager, who stated "I'd like to announce your leadership role with the team. We don't need to wait for a title decision to be made to make it clear to the team where you have authority to lead and direct." The email included a long list of new responsibilities for me to handle, including:
- Project managing App Dev Infrastructure projects. This includes planning, design, work scheduling, risk management. And, this includes delegating work to the team as needed for each project.
- Architectural, design, and technologies oversight on a project-by-project basis for .Net team projects.
- Mentoring and feedback on skills and professional development for .Net team members.
I pushed back on this, reminding my director and manager that this would not improve my situation, improve the quality of the work or processes our company needs, and would create confusion among our small dev staff (there are only four of us, each wearing many hats) as to who was actually assigning work, myself or the Manager of Application Development.
No announcement of my leadership role was made. A month later I was asked to write a job description for a new developer head count and I insisted we come to some resolution about my role on the developer team before I take on any more managerial duties. As five months had gone by without any suggestions from my manager and director, I outlined a plan where I would have the three other developers report to me and I would manage the custom development for the company. My current manager would manage the staff and processes for the company's intranet, as well as all of the organization's commercial off-the-shelf software (both of which he is already in charge of).
This week, after yet another month passing, I was offered the title of Application Development Supervisor. The Director of IT told me that he could not make me a manager as I had no management experience, even though I have been essentially managing people, projects, and processes for two years. He also ignored the status of several other individuals who have been promoted to manager without prior management experience.
So it is clear that IT Management does not want me to become a manager. However, I do not think the Application Development Supervisor is appropriate considering the nature of the work being asked of me. I would like to continue working at my current company (my compensation is not an issue, regardless of title, and I am an older developer who is, at most, a dozen years away from retirement), but I cannot continue with the current workload. My fear is that the supervisor title will just sow more confusion and leave me with no authority to make positive change for myself or my company. Is there a way to improve this situation (perhaps by suggesting an alternative to the title and some sort of language in the job description that would clearly define my responsibilities versus those of my manager's (they drafted a job description that was extremely vague))? Or should I take a step back, and just redefine myself as an individual contributor leaving the managerial duties I've been asked to handle to whatever fate befalls them? (This however, I fear, may raise other battles in the future.) Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.