Not everyone can be a manager.  That’s an organizational reality that not many people talk about.  Even if everyone wanted to be a manager, and many people don’t, there are some people who just shouldn’t be placed in that position.  Unfortunately, some managers don’t discover that they aren’t cut out for the role until it’s too late and they’ve already been promoted.  What complicates things is the fact that some managers figure out they don’t like managing people, or that they aren’t very good at it, but they won’t say anything because the promotion came with some recognition and most likely a pay raise.

As bad as that seems, there is a worse place to be.   The manager who isn’t cut out for the job, but doesn’t realize it yet.  We’ve filtered through the stories we’ve heard through the years and have created a short list of signs to look for if you are a manager.  If you “see” yourself on this list, you might find that you would be much happier and less stressed if you returned to an individual contributor role.  There’s nothing wrong with that path, and if more people were self-aware and left the management ranks of their own choice, the organization as a whole would benefit.

5 Reasons You May Not Make a Good Manager

  1. You compete with your people for the best tasks.  We all have things we like to do.  There are parts of every job that are more fun than others. Some of those tasks give us a great sense of accomplishment when we get to do them and do them well.  Your job as a manager is to help your people feel the success of these prime assignments–not to keep them to yourself. Worse yet is delegating the tasks that you don’t feel like doing.
  2. You get frustrated when people don’t do things the way you would.  One of the hardest things for a manager to accept is the fact that there are as many paths to task completion as there are people performing those tasks.  Just because you did something a certain way and had success, doesn’t mean that is the only way to be successful.  You have to be willing to let go of your set process and let people discover their own best way.
  3. You have trouble giving feedback.  Feedback is what makes your team better.  As a manager, you have to be able to be very specific with your employees about what is working and what isn’t.  That’s how people grow and improve.  It may be the most important thing a manager does on a daily basis. If you can’t do it, you are not going to be successful.
  4. You struggle when good people move on or up.  Great managers realize this is a sign that they have done something right in the development of their direct reports.  When you have a superstar on your team, they are going to move on.  If you feel threatened by that, or work hard to keep that employee under your influence, you are going to lose in the long run.
  5. You can’t embrace the social nature of management.  As opposed to being an individual contributor, management requires you to interact with people.  All the time.  One-on-one meetings, development discussions, performance discussions, feedback sessions, and team meetings.  These are the things that fill your day as a manager.  You can no longer hang out in your office or cube and be successful.  Management is a full contact sport.

Some of you may see bits and pieces of your behavior in the list above.  That’s ok.  Even if you discover you exhibit many of these traits, it’s not the end of the world.  The key is to ask yourself whether you see those things and you have the desire to change, or you see yourself and you realize they are the things that are making you miserable.  Either way, there is a way to solve the puzzle.