16

My company is growing - fast - and has more funding than ever before. We can afford to attract talent from top brand world famous companies to head departments that were previously run by college graduates. The problem for me is that I was one of those college graduates.

I worked my way up with a strong spirit of self-training, learning on the job, evolving from specialist to first time manager and figuring out how to be a good leader.

Now that external managers are entering the stage, how can I ensure that I don't get pushed aside? Can I still turn this into a growth path? What opportunities can I find now that there will be more people telling me what to do instead of me having the autonomy to try and fail/succceed by myself?

I don't want to be a specialist anymore. I don't want to do hands-on work. I want to learn to be a great business manager.

Could my scenario be one where it may be better to leave in order to not lose the momentum for leadership growth?

20

Well, I wouldn't leave unless you feel your career is stymied, here.

From what it sounds like, you have a very good opportunity.

First, accept that in this growing company, another layer of management is being added above you. It's not a demotion, it's a restructuring.

Now, assuming the new director you are reporting to is qualified and willing, ask him to mentor you. Tell him straight-up that you want to learn all he can teach you, and that you would like to be prepared to take his position in 3 to 5 years when he is promoted to V.P., and not have him replaced with another external recruit above you.

Then, follow through. Ask him questions about how things are done and why when it is appropriate. Learn from him all that you can. You don't necessarily have to agree with everything, but you can understand what he is doing and why it is being done that way.

Help him accomplish his goals. A good lieutenant is worth their weight in gold in most fast-paced companies. Be that resource to him. I'm not talking about blindly "sucking up" to him. I mean be a genuine source of help. Ask for responsibility. The more you help him accomplish, the more likely he is to get promoted, and he'll want to keep you as a direct report when he does, thus you'll get promoted as well (hopefully).

Leaving for another company would only reset you to "Zero" wherever you end up. You have "street cred" here. Now you need political capital. This is a huge opportunity if you play it right.

  • I think this is only valid when your position is not being replaced by one of the new director's old friends. – ta_notreddit Feb 16 '17 at 0:04
5

First things first. To become a senior manager, you are going to need really strong political skills. Start reading books on office politics and start practicing the techniques they teach you. Get your immediate boss on your side and get him to mentor you.

Next senior managers in most businesses have an MBA. If senior management is what you really want, then you need to get the education to make that possible. Get it from the best school you can find. There are some programs from really good schools that take place in intensive weekends. Where you get your MBA matters, so look for the best you can find. It is likely the company will pick up some or part of the tab.

5

One of the best pieces of advice that I live up to is to surround yourself with people who are better than you. If you are the best of the bunch, then you'll have ample opportunities to shine, but you won't learn much from people who are better than you, because there aren't.

If you can muster the humility to acknowledge that other managers are better than you, and be willing to work with them, then you will be able to learn from their experience and become a better manager than you ever could without their guidance and inspiration.

Another piece of advice is to not reinvent the wheel. There is a lot you can learn by your own experience, but you can learn much faster by drawing from the experiences of others who may have been in your situation before.

2

I don't agree with this practice/strategy, but there may be other managers in the company that would prefer to keep you as a programmer. Good programmers are hard to get and they don't want to go to the trouble to replace you and get someone else up to speed.

Too few companies offer enough growth paths to stay in development, but still move up in rank, salary, etc.

The key here is what you are looking for in your career and it doesn't seem like anyone in your company knows or has bothered to ask you about it. Take some time to have a discussion with your boss and see what he thinks. Find out what the criteria are. Maybe they could put you in charge of a small project as a trial to see if you can handle it and whether or not you really want to be in management. You may find you don't like it. Going somewhere else should be the last resort.

2

Now that external managers are entering the stage, how can I ensure that I don't get pushed aside? Can I still turn this into a growth path? What opportunities can I find now that there will be more people telling me what to do instead of me having the autonomy to try and fail/succceed by myself?

This all depends on your company's corporate culture, your boss's personality / perspective, your relationship with your boss and upper management, and management's perception of you.

If there is someone above you that you trust and respect, ask them their opinion.

Otherwise all you can do is perform the best you can and satisfy management's expectations for your performance and conduct. The corporate culture may change due to all the new people. Keep in touch with it and adapt appropriately.

If your education is an issue, consider going to school at night. Some companies even pay for this. Putting in the extra effort for the company like this will impress people.

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